Bumgarner allows nine runs, but rehab schedule looks right on track

Bumgarner allows nine runs, but rehab schedule looks right on track

SAN JOSE -- Madison Bumgarner's career California League ERA took a hit Wednesday night. He does not believe his rehab schedule did. 

Bumgarner gave up nine earned runs in his first San Jose Giants appearance in eight years, but he said he still hopes to be done with a lengthy rehab process after one more start in San Jose. All along, Bumgarner has targeted the first series of the second half for his return. He hopes to be back in the big leagues on July 15 in San Diego.

"It would have been nice to get up and down one more time but we got the pitch count up and that's ultimately all we're looking for," he said. "I felt good with the way my body felt. The command felt good. Obviously that's kind of a lopsided outing but my body feels pretty good.

"We've got hopefully just one more."

Bumgarner didn't spend much time here in 2009, posting a 1.48 ERA in five starts. He was making similarly quick work of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes until the fourth inning Wednesday.

The Giants were so encouraged by Bumgarner's simulated games last month in large part because he was pumping strikes, and the start of this night was no different. Bumgarner needed just 22 pitches to get through two, 19 of which were strikes. The lone hit was a solo homer from prospect Ibandel Isabel on a fly ball to right that kept carrying until it bounced off a wood sign inches above the yellow line.

The next Quakes hit went a bit further. DJ Peters, the Dodgers' fourth-round pick a year ago, hit a no-doubter to left on a grooved cutter in the fourth. The homer was Peters' 17th of the year and he added another later in the eight-run inning. Bumgarner gave up eight hits in the frame, including three homers to left. He did not seem particularly bothered.

"They've got their game plan and I've got mine," he said. "Not to take anything away from those guys."

Bumgarner credited the young Quakes for barreling a lot of balls, but he was here for pitch count and it was at 76 after the fourth. Bumgarner hoped to get up and down five times, but said four was fine. 

Per scouts behind the plate, Bumgarner's velocity was 90-91 throughout the night. His cutter lacked some snap, one said, and another scout noted that Bumgarner's off-speed pitches are behind his fastball. Bumgarner recognized that, saying his backdoor cutter needs work. The young Quakes took advantage.

"Next time we'll throw more," Bumgarner said of one of his bread and butter pitches. 

The time after that will likely be back on a big league mound.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”