Blake Sabol

Sabol standing out, making most of opportunity in second Giants act

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Since Buster Posey announced his retirement on Nov. 4, 2021, no position on the Giants’ roster has been a hotter topic of discussion than catcher. Being next in line for a legend, not replacing one because that’s almost always an impossible ask, is a pressurized situation where fans aren’t just peeled to you with their eyes but can feel your pain. 

That’s the lane Joey Bart first was thrust into before time ran out and Patrick Bailey was next to be thrown into traffic. Bailey has been handed some bumps in the road, like his latest trip to the 10-day injured list for a concussion, but when healthy he’s on the straightaway to stardom. 

Along the way there have been those at the position who have stopped by. Think about Curt Casali. Remember Austin Wynns. They’re not at, or near, the top of the list when recalling Giants catchers. 

Blake Sabol finds himself in a similar spot, and so far he’s making a name for himself in his latest opportunity. 

The Giants called Sabol up Saturday to be a backup to Tom Murphy, San Francisco’s newest catcher to stop along this road, which also was after Bailey went down the day prior to a concussion sustained from a foul tip off his mask.

Sabol was thrust into action earlier than expected when Murphy went down to a knee injury in Philadelphia’s wet conditions, the day of Sabol’s arrival from Triple-A Sacramento. Sabol entered the game in the second inning and ended it as one of only two Giants to have multiple hits in their 14-3 loss, going 2-for-3 with two singles. 

Sabol on Wednesday, in San Francisco’s 8-6 win against the Colorado Rockies, was one of five Giants to have multiple hits. This one had special meaning for Sabol, too. The 26-year-old enjoyed his first career three-hit game.

And it started with a strikeout in the Giants’ six-run second inning. 

His response was an RBI double to the left-center field gap, scoring Mike Yastrzemski to give the Giants a 7-1 lead on a day where they’d need as much cushion as possible. 

“Staying in a big part of the park, not trying to do too much – a lot of times here you can think a little bit too pull-happy and try and hit homers here,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said to reporters after the win. “Keeps it in the air when you hit it the other way and one ball he hits between first and second.”

The left-handed-hitting catcher then took an off-speed pitch the other way again in his next at-bat, then pulling a hard grounder past the right side of the infield and into right field his last time at the dish. 

In the four games he has played since being called up, Sabol now has two multi-hit games. He has gone 6-for-12 (.500) at the plate, going 5-for-9 off right-handers with one double and one RBI, and 1-for-3 against lefties. 

“I’m just trying to let the ball come to me a little bit,” Sabol said on "Giants Postgame Live." “The coaching staff both in Triple-A have done a great job of getting me back on track. I feel like I’m just letting the ball get over the zone and not missing right now.” 

Sabol actually served as the Giants’ Opening Day starting left fielder last season. The former seventh-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates played 110 games in total for the Giants in 2023, at three different positions. Sabol caught 55 games (starting in 46), played 43 in left field (32 as a starter) and was the Giants’ DH in 10 games (eight in the starting lineup).

Bailey undoubtedly was going to be the Giants’ everyday catcher this season. They signed Murphy to a two-year, $8.25 million contract over the offseason and still had Bart’s situation to figure out before releasing him four games into the season and then trading him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Yet the utility man Sabol made sure his defense in catcher’s gear was a main priority in the offseason and in Sacramento. 

“It started first day after the season ended,” Sabol said about focusing on his defense as a catcher. “The biggest thing I wanted to improve this year was definitely blocking, just keeping the ball in front of me and keeping that run on third base.

“It’s great to see the fruits of my labor so far, but there’s been a lot of coaches that have helped me this offseason, spring training and down there in Triple-A. I think it’s awesome just seeing all this effort paying off.” 

The Giants acquired Sabol from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later (Jake Wong) and cash in December 2022. He doesn’t have to be Bailey, he isn’t in line to be the next Posey. 

That isn’t needed from Sabol. Words still deserve to be written for the catchers who drive down his road too, and his second act has called for more attention, and maybe more typing on this keyboard in the future.

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