By G9ija

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Most Giants players have been coming and going from the team facilities here for weeks now, but Sunday marked the deadline for the last of the stragglers from the position player group.

Manager Gabe Kapler said there were no unexpected absences on the first official report dates for Giants position players.

The player he was most excited to see?

LaMonte Wade Jr., who strolled in to the home clubhouse here in a gray Nike sweatsuit around 9 a.m. Sunday.

“LaMonte has had a very focused offseason,” Kapler said. “He’s been very driven. Self motivated. He’s been locked in on his own. Nobody’s pushing him. He’s just done all the right things without a lot of fanfare.”

After an injury-riddled 2022, the Giants have Wade penciled in as their primary first baseman. He’ll take some reps this spring in the outfield but not many. Playing a premium offensive position, the Giants are counting on Wade to rediscover his “Late Night” 2021 form and avoid a repeat of 2022, when he hit .207 with eight homers — none after the sixth inning — in 77 games.

Suffering a knee injury in spring training, Wade’s 2022 was derailed before it got started. While he returned in May, he was quickly placed back on the injured list, and Kapler said Sunday that Wade “didn’t ever feel like he was 100%.”

“LaMonte’s most notable struggles last year were just about him not being as healthy as he wanted to be,” Kapler said. “I think just fine tuning his health and physical condition makes him immediately a better baseball player.”

So far, so good.

“I don’t think anything provides more confidence than having a good offseason,” Kapler said. “You come into camp banged up and it’s hard to feel really good about the season because you don’t even feel healthy now. So it’s hard to put yourself in the mindset of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium when you’re not feeling good right now. That’s why the offseason creates so much confidence. You come in strong, healthy, athletic, explosive, that makes you feel good about visualizing Opening Day.”

Stripling’s first live BP

Like Alex Cobb the day before, newcomer Ross Stripling got his first introduction to the pitch clock — and calling his own game — while facing live hitters Sunday morning. Complicating matters: the PitchCom device on pitchers’ waistbands has six buttons. Stripling already throws the kitchen sink — he has six pitches — and is experimenting with a different style of changeup that would give him seven unique offerings.

“I think for some of us it’s hit us harder than others,” Stripling said. “Cobb really likes to (mess around with the ball). I think it felt fast for him. For me, (the clock) didn’t seem to be too much of a problem. … Today was a good step forward of not being as worried (about the changes) as I thought.”

Stripling, who loves to experiment, spoke enthusiastically during his introductory news conference about working with the Giants’ pitching coaches. Less than a week into camp, he said he’s already reaping the rewards.

That new changeup? It was suggested by Brian Bannister (who is back in-person with the team after coaching remotely last season because of vaccine requirements) during Stripling’s first bullpen. Using the same grip but releasing it differently, Stripling said, turned the pitch into a swing-and-miss offering rather than one he used to generate weak contact.

“Literally physics,” Stripling said. “Which is new to me. That’s what I’m talking about. Just getting new coaching on me and learning stuff I’ve never learned before that can make me better and make me different than what I’ve been so far.”

Kapler cooks

You might have missed Kapler’s offseason excursions to Mexico and Vancouver, B.C., if you don’t follow the Giants manager on Instagram.

You also are missing out what is becoming one of his favorite hobbies: cooking, which he showed off often this offseason in videos posted to his profile.

It came up Sunday in relation to Cobb and others experimenting with calling their own games.

“Pitchers are going to be intimidated by even trying it. But just trying it gets you a little more comfortable with it, like anything else,” he said. “Like, the first time you make a recipe, you’re like, I’m gonna have to follow this recipe, look at it over and over, and it doesn’t feel as good. Maybe it’s a mess the first time. If you do it over and over, five or six times into, you’re making a really good dish. Before you know it, you’re throwing away the recipe all together.”

But it was more than a metaphor for Kapler. He wanted to talk about food.

“You can’t ask me about that stuff and expect me not to get excited about it,” Kapler said.

His new favorite indulgence: a thin strip of raw beef, lightly salted. Like the pitchers, it took some getting used to.

“The way you get comfortable with that is you start with a heavily dressed tartare,” Kapler said. “There’s a lot of flavors in there that you’re comfortable with. You’re not just tasting the beef. But then you do it enough, and now you’re just eating the raw beef. It’s delicious.”