LaTroy Hawkins expects to be ready for Opening Day after shoulder surgery

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Last offseason LaTroy Hawkins signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Brewers and then went 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA in 16 innings while trying to pitch through shoulder pain.

He was eventually shut down and underwent surgery on his labrum and rotator cuff in August. Yesterday the 38-year-old reliever told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he’s “doing well” and expects to be ready for Opening Day:

I’ve been throwing pain-free since the start of the year, every other day. I have no tightness like I’d felt before. The strength is there and it’s getting better every day.

Hawkins has yet to throw off a mound, which he’ll try for the first time once pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a couple weeks. Milwaukee owes him $4 million this season, but also brought in some right-handed relief insurance in the form of 41-year-old Takashi Saito.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.