'Universally respected' Wilmer Flores wins 2022 Willie Mac Award

'Universally respected' Flores wins 2022 Willie Mac Award originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants gave Wilmer Flores a new contract earlier this month, both Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler cited a moment during a night game in Chicago, when Flores accompanied Joey Bart out to the mound and helped give rookie closer Camilo Doval some guidance after a few missed pitches. The leadership role comes naturally to Flores, who also is instrumental to Kapler's daily lineups, and on Friday he was rewarded for that.

Flores was named the 2022 winner of the Willie Mac Award, given annually to the Giant who is deemed the most inspirational by teammates, coaches and support staff.

"It's a true honor to receive the Willie Mac Award," Flores said during the ceremony. "I want to start by thanking my coaches, thanking my teammates. I just want to appreciate the fans because you're always cheering, it doesn't matter if we're winning or losing. I always feel you behind us and that means a lot."

Flores leads the Giants in appearances and ranks second behind Joc Pederson with 19 homers, a career high. His 70 RBI are tied for the team lead with Pederson.

Before the game, Kapler talked at length about how Flores' leadership has been instrumental since he signed with the Giants in 2020, particularly with Spanish-first players.

"I think he's among the most universally respected players in our clubhouse, as well as in the game," Kapler said. "I think he's respected for his consistency and for his dedication to the San Francisco Giants, and also (for) tuning his teammates up. And for that reason, everybody is thrilled for Wilmer in this moment."

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Flores has been perhaps the team's most reliable offensive player during a down year for the team. Because of the production, defensive versatility and behind-the-scenes impact, the Giants gave Flores a new two-year deal on Sept. 12. Zaidi said at the time that Flores had made a strong impact on the organization.

"As a leader, the work ethic, the preparation, the willingness to do everything for the team, he just sets a great example for a team that's probably going to get younger and be looking into breaking more players in over the next couple of years," Zaidi said. "Having that kind of veteran set an example is really important."

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