Giants’ Zack Littell apologized to Gabe Kapler for ‘disrespectful’ actions

Littell apologized to Kapler for ‘disrespectful’ actions in the win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With the Giants clinging to a three-run lead over the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves on Monday night at Oracle Park, Gabe Kapler entrusted Zack Littell with the eighth inning.

Unfortunately for Littell, Kapler and the Giants, nothing went right, leading to one of the strangest moments of a disappointing 2022 season.

Littell allowed the first four Braves hitters to reach bases and Atlanta scored twice in the process. He managed to get a timely double play, but by that point, Kapler had seen enough and decided he needed left-handed pitcher Scott Alexander to face Matt Olson with the lead on the line.

The 26-year-old thought differently and wanted to finish what he started. He let Kapler know, putting the ball into his manager’s hand with some force and saying something as he walked off the mound. That caused Kapler to glare at Littell. The two then went into the tunnel to the side of the dugout to chat.

“I just said I wanted Olson,” Littell told reporters after the game regarding what he said to Kapler on the mound. “Not that I pitched well enough to deserve that at all. I think any guy out there is going to want to finish an inning. That’s all it was. Frustration that I didn’t get through that and not by any means frustration towards [Kapler]. Just frustrated with myself and yeah, came out that way.”

After the Giants’ 3-2 win, which Alexander preserved, Littell and Kapler spoke again in the manager’s office, where everything was sorted out and settled.

“That’s something we don’t really want to address during the game, obviously,” Littell told reporters. “And we both knew that. We had a job to do and finish the game and get through that last inning. That was the priority. And after the game, I went in and apologized for my part in it and moved forward.”

Littell, who saw his ERA jump from 4.74 to 5.08 after allowing two runs in 2/3 of an inning against the Braves, made it clear his actions had nothing to do with anything Kapler did. It was all about what he was able to control.

“What happened tonight was purely out of self-frustration for my performance and it came out in a disrespectful way towards him and obviously, that was not my intention at all,” Littell told reporters. “So that’s on me. We talked about it. I’ve already gone into his office and that’s that. I don’t want to take away from what happened tonight. Won a game against a really good team. Sucks that this had to be a part of it. I can assure you on my side, it won’t happen again.”

The Giants have had some strange moments this season, from baserunning blunders to dugout incidents in which Carlos Rodón kicked a bat that hit Thairo Estrada in the leg. In those moments, Kapler did his best to keep his emotions under control in the dugout.

But Monday’s exchange was different. Despite how angry Kapler appeared on the field and in the dugout, cooler heads prevailed after the game.

“I think Zack wanted to stay in that game obviously,” Kapler told reporters. “He’s a competitor and wanted to finish that inning and I think it was just him wanting me to know that he wanted that inning. There’s obviously a way to do that. Zack knows that. We discussed it. He knows that when I come out to get the ball, he just needs to put the ball in my hand, then we’ll talk about anything later. We open the door for conversations around when players enter and exit games, and I’m happy to discuss those things with players . There’s a way to do that. I think Zack understands that.”

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A frustrating season is spiraling to an end for the Giants, and while there was good news earlier in the day with Wilmer Flores agreeing to a contract extension, the night ended with another in-house controversy, although Kapler and Littell appear to have put the issue to bed.

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