Villar to make big league debut with Giants after long journey


PHOENIX -- On Sunday night, David Villar got the news he's been waiting his whole life for. And then the adventure started.

Villar's initial flight to Phoenix was canceled because of a mechanical issue as the plane sat on the tarmac. His next flight left so early that he only got two hours of sleep. As he talked to reporters once he finally arrived, Villar smiled and said his two main focuses at that moment were getting something to eat and taking a shower to freshen up. He could take joy in the fact that both would finally take place in a big league clubhouse.

"Just being here, it's still very surreal," Villar said. 

Villar is here to try and provide a jolt, but also because he has earned it. A year after hitting 20 homers in Double-A, he slugged 21 in his first 66 Triple-A games, posting an OPS above 1.000 and driving in 62 runs. 

The Giants put him right into a struggling lineup, with Villar hitting seventh and playing second base in his debut. The 25-year-old is primarily a third baseman, but he started doing drills at second base last year and carried that work into the offseason to have another card to play in case it would be needed.

The Giants are set at third with Evan Longoria, but they're going to give Villar a look to see if he can help the infield. Villar can also play first, and if the bat plays at the big league level, he would add some right-handed pop to a lineup that needs it. 

Villar has hit all season long and the calls for his promotion have gotten louder and louder. Manager Gabe Kapler said this is about adding to the lineup and bringing on some new energy that might have a "ripple effect," but also about rewarding a young prospect who has worked hard to get his swing to this point. 

"I was thinking about him over the course of the last couple of days and I think at some point -- just sharing my own personal opinion -- you start to do a disservice to the player and to the group as a whole by not at least presenting the initial opportunity," Kapler said. "I think players, when they're producing like David has over the last two years, begin to think 'What do I have to do to get my opportunity?' I think a move like this satisfies it, and then I also think strategically it has a chance to help us win a baseball game today."

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That baseball game happens to come against a lefty the Giants know well. Villar was taken in the 11th round in 2018 when Madison Bumgarner was the star in San Francisco, and he'll face him Monday afternoon. 

"It's a coincidence, but who better than to get an established Major League caliber arm like him," Villar said. "Let's get right into it."

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