Giants option Littell after heated exchange with Kapler originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Zack Littell isn’t having a good season and has pitched in three of the last four games, so, with the way the Giants handle their active roster, he likely would have been a candidate to be optioned at some point this week anyway.
He might have accelerated the process on Monday night.
Littell was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento a day after an incident with manager Gabe Kapler on the mound in the eighth inning of the Giants’ 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Lefty Thomas Szapucki returned from Triple-A to join the bullpen.
Littell gave up two runs in a close game and was pulled so the Giants could have lefty Scott Alexander face Braves star Matt Olson. Littell expressed his displeasure, angrily telling Kapler that he wanted to stay in the game. After making the pitching change, Kapler took Littell back to the dugout tunnel for a conversation.
“I just said I wanted Olson,” Littell told reporters after the game. “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.”
Littell said he apologized to Kapler after the game, noting that “that’s something we don’t really want to address during the game, obviously, and we both knew that.”
Kapler said after the game that he understood Littell being frustrated in the heat of the moment, but there was a better way to handle it.
“I think Zack wanted to stay in that game obviously,” Kapler said. “He’s a competitor and wanted to finish that inning and I think it was just his 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.”
Littell was part of a strong bullpen last season but has had a down year. He has a 5.08 ERA in 39 appearances and already had one stint in Triple-A.
Monday night’s appearance was Littell’s third in four days and he likely would not have been available Tuesday regardless.