Kevin Gausman went to Grandview High School, located just 30 minutes from Coors Field, which meant every spring the baseball team got to have about the coolest season opener possible. Grandview opens up at Coors Field every year and Gausman had a chance to toe the rubber there as a senior. He didn't dig in too hard, though.
Asked this week what he remembers about that experience, Gausman smiled and recalled that the grounds crew told the high schoolers they couldn't step on the dirt and the grass at the same time, dig in too deep on the mound or warm up in the bullpens. Gausman got ready for the first start of his senior year by playing catch in the outfield.
"It was just a high school game, so they were like, 'don't mess up the field,'" he said. "It's crazy to think about that now, but yeah, that was a super cool moment."
Gausman has returned to Coors Field as a professional but has pitched just twice, both times in 2020, when the seats were filled with cardboard cutouts rather than family members and friends. That'll change next week when Gausman makes his first All-Star appearance, but he will have to wait for another visit with the Giants to pitch at Coors Field in front of relatives for the first time.
The Giants long have had Gausman lined up to start Sunday's first-half finale against the Washington Nationals, which makes him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game two days later, and they didn't change their plans, even with an injury to Sammy Long. The Giants could have gone with a four-man rotation over the final week, skipping the fifth spot and moving Anthony DeSclafani up to Friday and Gausman up to Saturday, but the staff decided instead to use Logan Webb and Tyler Beede in the fifth spot Friday.
Manager Gabe Kapler said the staff discussed shortening the rotation but decided to stay on turn. He doesn't want that to take away from Gausman's enjoyment of being named an All-Star, though.
"It's a real honor to pitch in the All-Star Game and it can be one of these players' life highlights and important moments and I personally take that really seriously, and if we were lined up differently I think it would work out well for him to have that opportunity," Kapler said. "What I'll say is it doesn't take away from the honor and it doesn't take away from the fact that he's one of the two or three best pitchers in the National League thus far. It certainly highlights and illuminates his accomplishments even though it's not lined up for him to pitch in that game."
San Francisco Giants
If the Giants were in a different spot as a team, perhaps it would make sense to prioritize Gausman pitching in the All-Star game, but they are battling for the NL West lead on a nightly basis and they would like to get DeSclafani and Gausman an extra day of rest this week, with the team being off Thursday.
DeSclafani has a 4.26 ERA on normal rest this year, but it's 2.09 when he gets one extra day. Gausman's numbers are spectacular no matter the situation, but the Giants certainly have worked hard to make sure he gets extra time to recover when possible. He has made 13 of his 17 starts with at least five days rest.
Gausman said it's going to be "a pretty cool" experience regardless, and it certainly sounds like he could use all the free time he can get while in Denver. His parents, siblings and their families will all be at the game, along with others Gausman grew up with. He hasn't been back home for many extended stretches since going off to LSU as an 18-year-old, and said he has about 20 tickets to leave for Tuesday's game.
"There are a lot of people to see in a short amount of time. I'm trying to coordinate it and have an itinerary and my wife is all over it. She's got everything lined up to the minute,“ he said. "It's going to be a lot of tickets, but you know what, it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, especially the first time. It's at home, so let's blow it out."