Littell breaks down hit in second at-bat since high school originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
CHICAGO -- When he realized he was about to get his second at-bat since high school, Giants reliever Zack Littell decided it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Littell spent his whole career in the AL before this season, and when he was sent up to hit in Pittsburgh earlier this season, manager Gabe Kapler told him not to swing. Littell took three fastballs and struck out looking. He wasn't about to do that again when called upon with two outs and nobody on in the fifth inning of Friday's game.
"I didn't ask if I could swing," Littell said Saturday. "The last time they told me no, so I didn't ask."
Littell briefly did consult with hitting coach Donnie Ecker, who told him his best shot was to try and slap a hit the other way through a hole at second base. He chatted with catcher Buster Posey, telling him that he would get a base hit. But he avoided eye contact with Kapler.
"I noticed he snuck up to the plate without having that conversation," Kapler said, laughing.
Kapler always has the same fear when he needs to ask a reliever to hit, something that is happening more often with the bullpen games. He's worried about an injury, and even after Littell smoked a 97-mph single into right, Kapler was still concerned. He then watched Littell closely on the bases, but there was nothing to be worried about.
"I'm just pleased when they come back to the dugout intact and healthy," Kapler said. "It was really cool, it was a lot of fun."
It was that type of day for the Giants, who won 6-1 behind Captain Brandon Belt. Littell added his own lighthearted moment, and the dugout exploded when he reached base. About half of his teammates immediately signaled that the ball needed to be thrown into the dugout as a souvenir. Littell said it's going in a glass case and will be displayed alongside the ball from his first career strikeout.
The single might have been the unlikeliest hit of the season for the Giants, who do not have a staff that handles bats well. Littell said he hasn't even taken BP since high school, and he admitted he wasn't a good hitter back then, either. He was asked to practice bunting once earlier in this career and had trouble even making contact.
Yet there he was, getting ahead on Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks and then lining a 2-1 pitch for a base hit that could have been a double if not for the cozy dimensions down the line.
"It was luck, for sure," Littell said. "I went 2-0 and thought I'm definitely going to get a fastball here. I took the first one because it looked like it was light years away."
Littell at least looked the part. He was surprised when he got to the big leagues with the Giants and saw that clubhouse manager Brad Grems had a helmet with his name on the back. When he picked it up Friday, there were gloves inside. Littell grabbed a random bat and snuck up to the plate. He wasn't sure which teammate's bat he took.
"I have no idea," he said. "I took the one that looked the best. It looked like it had a hit in it."