PHOENIX -- It's not as if Bobby Evans needed more work to do. He has a full-time job with the Giants and with his wife is raising three young children. He's a devoted Christian and says that's what helps him find a balance between his professional and personal life. And suddenly he's the team's new general manager.
The move literally came out of the blue, Evans said Tuesday night before his club lost, 7-6, to the D-backs at Chase Field. Longtime general manager Brian Sabean had mentioned the possibility to his assistant GM over the course of time.
"But only in passing," Evans said. "Then the last Sunday of Spring Training, he came over to me and said, 'Hey, I'm going to transition over to this executive vice president position and I'm going to name you as general manager.'"
Evans asked Sabean when he planned to do just that.
"On Friday," Sabean told Evans.
"I've spent time the last 10 days digesting all this," Evans said. "I think the adjustment is going to be fairly organic over time. Hopefully this is going to be a seamless transition for him. I don't think there's any necessity to undo what's working. We'll refine it together. We've known each other for so long. It's just very gratifying for them to give this opportunity to me."
It's not as if it wasn't a long time coming. On Friday, the Giants announced contract extensions for Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2019. Sabean took on the umbrella position of executive vice president of baseball operations and Evans replaced him as general manager. Evans, beginning his 22nd season in San Francisco's front office, was also quietly extended.
Sabean came over from the Yankees in the mid-1990s and by September 1996 replaced Bob Quinn as GM. He is the longest-tenured person in that position in the Major Leagues. Sabean brought Evans with him from New York and the two have worked well in tandem ever since.
"Really, I don't expect anything to change," Evans said. "Brian and I want to keep working together to strategically move things forward in the right direction."
While Sabean can be tempestuous at times, Evans is unflappable. He's one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. Like the D-backs, Cubs and Dodgers, the Giants are now going to a two-tiered approach in baseball ops with a GM below the executive VP or chief baseball officer. Sabean will take the long view and Evans will handle the day-to-day duties. As it has been for almost two decades, Sabean may have the final word, but player personnel moves will remain a collaborative effort.
That working environment has been very productive. With the help of so many others, Sabean and Evans have built the Giants into one of Major League Baseball's top organizations. The Giants went to the World Series in 2002 only to lose to the Angels in seven heartbreaking games. Now they've won it all three times in the last five years, gilding what many consider the best era in the long and heralded history of a franchise that has resided in San Francisco and New York.
A devoted family man, it tells you all you need to know about Evans' character that he cherishes it all through the eyes of his late mother and father.
"We had the chance to celebrate the 2002 season together," he said. "And I celebrated '10, '12 and '14 without them. But I know they would have been joyfully celebrating along with me if they had been here."
Evans' mother died of cancer and his father died shortly thereafter from a heart attack. They were both in their 70s and passed long before their time.
"But I don't live with any regrets," he said. "I loved them passionately and celebrated with them faithfully and learned from them without hesitation. I felt like they were Mom and Dad, but they were great supporters and friends to me as an adult. I can't think of anybody I ever wanted to spend more time with. They were special."
Evans continues to know his share of heartache. An older sister is also suffering from breast cancer that has metastasized in her bones. During our interview session, he confided the grim fact that she had undergone a chemotherapy session earlier on the same day. Thus, placing Matt Cain on the disabled list with a flexor tendon strain in his recovering right arm is small change in comparison.
Evans seems remarkably well-centered. He spent his formative years in Massachusetts and at 9 years old moved with his family to North Carolina, where like many a kid, he harbored the dream of playing Major League Baseball. Evans was a catcher for his high school team, but then had his dreams dashed as a freshman when he tried to walk on the baseball team at the University of North Carolina and was cut.
When Evans went to question the coach, he was offered a dose of harsh reality.
"He told me my tools were just average across the board," Evans said. "There was no high-end tool he could use. But when I walked out of his office, I was the new assistant."
Little did Evans know that one day he'd be making similar assessments that might determine the fate of other kids with familiar dreams. Evans had to take a different direction.
"I've always been passionate about the game. My dream has always been to play the game," Evans said. "I'm thankful to even be part of the game I've loved since I was young and a small, small child."
Evans earned his degree from North Carolina and took a path that led him to an internship with the Red Sox and a job in Major League Baseball's main office. From there, he joined Sabean in San Francisco, forming a relationship that crystalized Friday with his appointment as Giants GM. Evans is 46 years old now, and as we were seated in San Francisco's dugout, he flashed a digital picture of his three beautiful children: Jonathan, 10, Anjali, 7, and Jackson, 18 months.
The three World Series titles are one thing, but there's no doubt about what part of his life he's prouder of. Isn't that what balance really is all about?
"Balance to me is that you don't let anything suffer," Evans said. "Your work doesn't suffer, your health doesn't suffer, your family doesn't suffer. There are ongoing sacrifices, but no one suffers. That's the challenge. It's an ongoing challenge. It's a nationwide challenge. I mean, I'm not unique. Not at all."