Bumgarner: 'It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made'

Bumgarner: 'It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made'

SAN FRANCISCO — Riding horses has always been part of Madison Bumgarner’s legacy, but there are times where his ride back home in North Carolina doesn’t have four legs. Bumgarner has been riding dirt bikes his whole life without incident, but a crash last week has left him facing a season of uncertainty.

Bumgarner addressed the media Monday, four days after an accident in the hills near Denver. He said he does not have a timetable for his return. The Giants have ordered more tests and expect to have a more concrete schedule by Tuesday or Wednesday. For now they are leaning on possibilities they hope to cross off. 

Bumgarner does not anticipate having surgery to repair a left shoulder sprain. He does not think this is a season-ending injury. 

“It’s hard to put a timetable on it, but I would certainly be disappointed if I wasn’t (back this season),” he said. “The only thing I’m putting my focus on now is busting my butt to rehab and make sure I’m back with the team.”

For now, that means rest and ice, and Bumgarner was scheduled to have another MRI on Monday. The Giants believe his shoulder is relatively sound structurally, and the consensus is that Bumgarner is lucky this wasn’t worse. He said the bike, a rental during the team’s off day, was similar to ones he has been on in the past. He was hours into a ride with two family members when he went down on dirt.

“I was actually being pretty safe the whole time,” Bumgarner said. “It was just a freak deal. We were on the way out, almost back to the truck … I wish I had some kind of cool story that it was some kind of crazy wreck. It wasn’t anything spectacular.”

Bumgarner has spoken to most of his teammates individually and in small groups. He understands that this is a bad look, and it’s a blow the Giants can’t afford. 

“It’s terrible. It’s obviously not my intention when I set out to enjoy the off day,” he said. “I realize it’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made. It sucks not being out here with the guys.”

The Giants came home with a 6-13 record, and it was 6-10 the day Bumgarner got hurt. A night before, he had once again received no run support. Bumgarner is 0-4, but he said this was not a case of “blowing off steam” on a day off. It also is not a normal off-day activity for him, and it is not allowed under Bumgarner’s contract. 

That won’t be an issue, however. There has been no talk of punishing Bumgarner, and any attempt to get back money would be a short-sighted move by the organization. Bumgarner is vastly underpaid by today’s baseball standards, and the Giants hope to negotiate a long-term extension in the years to come. 

That deal will hinge largely on how Bumgarner recovers. The Giants cannot say for sure that Bumgarner will return as the same pitcher, because he already has a unique delivery that puts pressure on the shoulder. Trainer Dave Groeschner did not want to set expectations one way or the other, but he conceded that Bumgarner will be out “a little while.” At the very least, Bumgarner is looking at another week or two in the sling, and whenever he is cleared to throw, he will basically start his season from scratch. 

“We’ll get him back throwing, but you’ve got to build him up to 100 pitches,” Groeschner said. “That takes time in itself."

Bumgarner has built up a reservoir of goodwill over the years, allowing this lengthy process to go down a bit easier. On top of what he had accomplished before Thursday, Bumgarner pleased team officials by being forthright. He knew something was wrong, and when he returned to the team hotel in Denver he immediately called Groeschner and admitted to what he had done. Other players — including Giants — have gotten caught in lies about injuries. 

“That’s not who I am,” Bumgarner said. “If you’re going to do stuff like that, you’e got to be honest.”

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”