Madison Bumgarner promises to stay on even keel in his first start againt the Giants

Madison Bumgarner hinted before Major League Baseball pulled the plug on spring training he had a story to tell regarding his departure from the Giants in favor of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

When reminded of his untold tale Friday night during a Zoom teleconference, Bumgarner chuckled and stayed in character.

“You’re not going to get that today,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner takes the mound Saturday night at Oracle Park against the Giants after a stint on the injured list because of back spasms, having missed the first series in San Francisco between the two teams. He is 0-3 with a 9.35 earned run average

It could have been a packed house awash in nostalgia at the sight of the left-hander who did more than anyone else to deliver three World Series Championships in five years. A standing ovation for sure, with the crowd then hoping for his demise against the team he left in free agency for a five-year contract worth $85 million.

The coronavirus pandemic changed all that.

Instead, there will be cardboard cutouts, and there are no plans to have Bumgarner take the mound to the “Fire on the Mountain” ballad which used to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The Giants, according to a team spokesman, will pay tribute via social media.

Bumgarner, 30, is confident he can keep his emotions in check. He said he no problem with contract negotiations with the Giants nor did he have any hard feelings toward anyone in the organization, although he didn’t elaborate when asked.

“I’m a pretty easy going guy. Guys have been asking me if it’s weird being on the other side and all that,” Bumgarner said. “It’s really not. It’s nice to be back and see a lot of the guys I knew and played with and worked with. There’s a lot of new faces for sure. It’s pretty much completely different, it looks like. I was excited to come back here and see the city.”

Giants manager Gabe Kapler deferred comment on facing Bumgarner until after Friday night’s game, although he did manage one platitude.

“Madison was a tremendous pitcher for a long time for the Giants and arguably one of the top two pitchers over the course of the last 10 years or so,” Kapler said. “He’s certainly deserving of all the accolades.”

No Giants players were available during the pregame window for players, with a team media relations spokesman saying longtime teammates Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford declined.

Given Bumgarner’s layoff after a shaky start, it’s hard to know what to expect.

“Feel pretty good. The back stuff’s gone. We got that taken care of pretty quick.,” Bumgarner said. “Then just kind of slowly building back up and making sure we’re ready to come back here and be ready.”

Bumgarner said he’ll miss having fans in the stands.

“Obviously everybody would like for them to be here,” Bumgarner said. “Not just here, all the cities. But with the hand that we’re all dealt right now, unfortunately that’s not going to happen. I know we’re all excited for them to get back and for baseball to turn in to what it was instead of what it is right now.”

Whether Kapler puts longtime teammates such as Belt, Crawford or Pablo Sandoval in the lineup remains to be seen. Bumgarner didn’t seemed overwhelmed by the prospect of having to face them.

“I feel like I’m pretty good at pushing all that stuff aside and I think I’ll be able to go out there and just treat it like any other start, same as I would if it was a postseason start or whatever,” Bumgarner said. “I feel like I’m pretty good at staying even keel when it comes to that stuff.”

Bumgarner’s early appearances included a decline in velocity as Bumgarner struggled to break 90 miles per hour, something he attributes at least in part to the break in spring training.

“I think the summer played the main factor in that,” Bumgarner said. “But I’m going to go out there with what I’ve got and pitch and get outs. that’s all you can do. I’ve got to get past that and not worry about how hard I’m throwing because for me it’s always been about making pitches anyway.”

Bumgarner was an excellent pitcher in his home park, whether it was called AT&T or Oracle, going 60-40 with a 2.72 earned run average during the regular season in 918 2/3 innings.

However, if they ever put a statue of Bumgarner outside of Oracle Park, it will be because of his dominance on the road in the postseason. In San Francisco, Bumgarner was 3-3 with a 3.88 earned run average. There were some memorable moments, to be sure, throwing seven shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers and a complete game shutout of the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 in 2014.

Away from home is where Bumgarner cemented his legend, going 6-0 with a save and surrendering just three earned runs in 52 2/3 innings, an 0.50 earned run average . The save, of course, was closing out the Royals over five innings for the Giants third World Series championship in five years in 2014.

“I spent the last 10 years here. You don’t just forget about it,” Bumgarner said. “I think about it, when I see the guys play, watching different ballgames or when we’re playing the Giants, you can’t help but reminisce a little bit.


Right-hander Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder impingement) and left-hander Drew Smyly (left index finger) will throw three inning simulated games Saturday. Samardzija has missed 23 games and Smyly 29 while on the injured list.

“Well check in with them after and see how they’re doing and decide our next step then,” Kapler said.

Outfielder Austin Slater, who has missed 10 games with a left groin strain, is making good progress, according to Kapler.

“He’s getting very, very close,and throwing a little bit to bases and getting stronger each day,” Kapler said. “We’ll keep monitoring that situation.”

Starting pitcher Trevor Cahill (hip) appears on track to make his start Saturday against Bumgarner. Cahill and several other pitchers came to the park to throw on their off day and Kapler was encouraged by what he saw from Cahill.

“We wanted to see if he could push off, if he could land, and stay strong enough through his bullpen to give us a thumbs up and if he’s capable of being the guy he’s been for us so far,” Kapler said. “We haven’t seen any indication that he’s not.”


The Giants’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field isn’t on the roster.

Outfielder Hunter Pence, released on Aug. 23, is one of 30 Major League Baseball players to be nominated.

“I know he’s honored by it and our players and our staff are certainly supportive of Hunter, he does so much in the community and so much in San Francisco,” Kapler said. “It feels like the right person was nominated.”





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Author: Jerry McDonald