Bumgarner becomes first pitcher to hit two homers on Opening Day

Bumgarner becomes first pitcher to hit two homers on Opening Day

PHOENIX — This collection of Giants is a confident group, but also a somewhat stoic one. They have plenty of fun behind closed doors, but this roster does not generally flip bats or engage in raucous dugout celebrations or skip off the mound. 

There was no hiding the emotion, however, when Madison Bumgarner hit his second homer Sunday. Some players in the dugout stared at Bumgarner, seemingly asking, “How the bleep did you do that?” Others smiled. Most laughed. 

“For us in the dugout, we’re just kind of shaking our heads,” catcher Buster Posey said. “It’s not supposed to be that easy. He kind of makes it look easy, but there’s a method to his madness. See what I did there? Mad-ness. He works at it. He takes it seriously.”

Bumgarner worked religiously this spring to improve his approach against breaking balls, and that seemed prudent his first time up. With a 3-2 count, Zack Greinke threw him a slider and then missed with a curveball that sent Bumgarner jogging down to first. It is the way Bumgarner has been pitched, even by the game’s best, for a couple of years, but if you make a mistake with your fastball, he is still waiting to pounce.

Greinke did in the fifth, and Bumgarner blasted a low liner into the seats in left, the ball never getting more than 55 feet off the ground. In the seventh, Andrew Chafin fell behind 2-0 and served one up at 92 mph. It left at 112 mph, landing 422 feet away. 

Bumgarner became the all-time franchise leader in homers for a pitcher (16) and extended his lead among active pitchers. He is the only pitcher to homer twice on Opening Day. He joined Giancarlo Stanton as the only MLB players to hit two homers at 112+ mph in one game during the Statcast era. 

“I try to be pretty level-headed and even-keeled,” he said. “Obviously it’s pretty special to do that, but my job out there is on the mound. That’s what my main concern is.”

Bumgarner was pretty dominant there, too. The man who is forever flirting with his first no-hitter took a perfect game into the sixth. The game unraveled quickly, but Bumgarner tipped his cap to A.J. Pollock, who took him deep to left for a two-run homer. 

The flurry did some damage to Bumgarner’s final line, but in his first start, at a park that plays the way Chase Field does with the roof open, he didn't do much wrong. Bumgarner was charged with three runs in seven innings. He struck out 11 and walked none while throwing 88 pitches. 

The most important number may have come on the radar gun. Bumgarner does not often worry about velocity, but an increase is a sign of proper mechanics, and after maxing out at 93.0 mph in 2016, he hit 94.3 on Sunday and repeatedly pounded fastballs that registered in the 94 mph range. 

“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said. “That’s the adjustment in my delivery that I’ve been working on for a long time. It definitely was coming out good today.” 

After many of his starts the last two seasons, Bumgarner has insisted that his mechanics were not nearly as perfect as he wanted them to be. Asked on Sunday, he smiled and offered only that, “I’m a lot closer than where I was.”

“The struggle is once you get it, to keep hold of it and not lose it,” Bumgarner added. 

If this version of Bumgarner — with slightly cleaner mechanics and increased velocity — shows up all year, the Giants could once again have a Cy Young Award winner atop their rotation. If he keeps hitting for power, you’re talking about a potential MVP. Bumgarner has consistently added to his value on the mound with wondrous moments at the plate, and seven innings into his 2017 season, he’s already 40 percent of the way to his career-high for homers. In his first plate appearance, he added a walk.

“I was hoping his spot would come up again (before he was taken out) so he could get one more at-bat to go for three homers,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

The idea of a pitcher hitting three homers should be absurd. But teammates won’t rule anything out with Bumgarner, not after a day like Sunday. They’ve learned to stay out of the way and simply enjoy the show. 

“I just laughed,” first baseman Brandon Belt said. “You expect him to get one every once in a while. You don’t expect him to get two the first day. There’s not much you can say. I just laughed. It’s pretty cool to watch a pitcher do that.”

Bumgarner’s first multi-homer game put him in elite company. He joined Bob Elliott, Willie Mays, Matt Williams and Barry Bonds as Giants who have hit two homers on Opening Day. Speaking after a tough loss, he shrugged all that off, saying he tries to think along with the pitcher but he was fortunate to get pitches he could handle. 

“That’s something you look back on when you’re done playing,” he said of his historic day. “Right now, I’m not concerned about that.”

Dodgers lose Justin Turner to broken wrist after getting hit by pitch vs A's


Dodgers lose Justin Turner to broken wrist after getting hit by pitch vs A's

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner's broken left wrist is expected to heal without surgery, according to Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts.

Turner was hurt Monday when hit by a pitch from Oakland's Kendall Graveman.

Turner arrived at the Dodgers spring training facility with a cast over his wrist Tuesday morning and was scheduled to see a hand specialist for an estimate of the time he could miss.

"We know that it's not a surgery thing, it's just essentially time," Roberts said. "That's the initial thought. That could change but that's what I've heard."

Turner hit .322 with 21 homers and 71 RBIs last year and was a first-time All-Star. He had 14 RBIs against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series and was voted MVP.

The Dodgers appear poised to move Logan Forsythe from second base to third in Turner's absence and have Enrique Hernandez and Chase Utley share time at second.

"It obviously makes a lot of sense to have Logan over there a lot more at third, and to kind of put together some guys at second base, and leave Chris (Taylor) in center field," Roberts said.

Backup catcher Austin Barnes also could see time at second base.

Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.