2 Giants teams compete for attention ahead of Friday home openers

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Baseballs San Jose Giant prepare for Fridays home opener

One Bay Area team in orange and black is preparing for its home opener on Friday. San Jose Giants, the SF Giants single-A affiliate, have their seasons opening day the same day as their major league counterpart.

During the anxious hours before a home opener, members of the San Francisco Giants single-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, on Wednesday, honed their skills during batting practice at Excite Ballpark in San Jose.

"There’s something about opening day in baseball. Just the excitement of a new season," said SJ Giants hitting coach Travis Ishikawa.

The revamped team is poised to repeat its success of 2023. A first-half championship was followed, unfortunately, by a second-half, first-round playoff loss to Modesto. To bolster their ranks this season, this version of the Orange & Black is turning to a teenager.

"It’s surreal. I mean everything changed so quickly for me. I was playing high school, state championship games. And then all of a sudden, I’m out on the other side of the country playing baseball," said first baseman Bryce Eldridge.

Last year Eldridge became the San Francisco Giants’ #1 draft pick.

Tall and lanky, the 18-year-old Virginia native is a hard-hitting first baseman in the vein of Brandon Belt – who also began his career in Single-A San Jose.

"I feel like I’m very gifted in not having to worry about all this pressure on me. I’ve kind of had that target on my back my whole life in my town, kind of being one of those top players," said Eldridge.

The job of making a top A-ball player into a star in "The Show" falls to hitting coach Travis Ishikawa. He’s a former Giant who experienced the ultimate success when he hit a NLCS series-clinching three-run home run in 2014.

"There’s not a lot to do with him. For him it’s just honing his skills. Teaching him how to be a professional. How to show up on a daily basis. Develop a routine. And just navigate some of those mental things," he said of Eldridge, as he said in the first base dugout at Excite Ballpark.

With both Giants teams playing on Friday, and the dimensions of the field basically the same, the start times will be different. San Francisco in the afternoon, San Jose in the evening. And what happens off the field here, is geared toward the fans. And team officials say that’s what differentiates the major league experience from the minor league experience.

"We take a lot of pride in allowing fans to be right on top of the action," said Taylor, as an excited smile crossed his lips. "Fans can lean up against the net. Talk to players. Get really close interactions with players that you just can’t get at a major league stadium."

The up-close experience of seeing the future of the MLB begins Friday evening, versus the Fresno Grizzlies.

"There’s nothing like an opening day as a player, just the excitement," said Ishikawa.

Jesse Gary is a news & sports reporter, and a sports anchor, based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv