Giants notes: Bumgarner draws a crowd in KC; Latest on Posey, Bochy

Giants notes: Bumgarner draws a crowd in KC; Latest on Posey, Bochy

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals do not expect big crowds for this midweek series against a National League team, even if that team is the one that knocked them out in 2014. Madison Bumgarner drew a crowd on Tuesday, though. 

Bumgarner was surrounded by 14 local reporters and cameramen just before batting practice, and he certainly enjoyed looking back at the biggest night of his career. 

"Obviously those are some of the best memories of my career," he said, smiling. "It's a pretty special place to come back to. I love the city, the field, playing those guys. I'm not good at ranking stuff, but if you force me to, I do think (Game 7) has got to be number one for me."

If you missed it, I wrote an oral history of the moment Bumgarner jogged out of the visiting bullpen here. He went out early Tuesday to do some stretching and running, but he stuck to left field, never crossing over to go see the spot where he sat for four innings. 

Bumgarner spent some time talking to Royals players after he did his work, and he'll see another familiar face this week. Whit Merrifield, a 28-year-old infielder, was called up by the Royals. He grew up in North Carolina, playing with and against Bumgarner, who did not remember any specific battles. Merrifield did; he told local reporters that Bumgarner hit him in the head with a pitch when they were 11 years old. 

"I did?" Bumgarner said. "Geez, I don't remember that. I'm sure it was an accident."

--- A couple other "we're back in KC" notes: Hunter Strickland is a bit curious to see what kind of reaction he gets if he pitches. Remember, Strickland had a heated moment with Sal Perez early in the series. He said the two spoke the next day and all was good. Also, Johnny Cueto is back two years after helping them get a title here. He spent a lot of time with Royals on Tuesday. 

--- Ned Yost was not in the mood for questions about the Giants or Bumgarner. "It's just another series," he said. 

--- Buster Posey will likely DH both games, Ron Wotus said. Posey is cleared to catch, however, and he said he feels good and did three or four days after getting hit. 

"I'm very grateful that I felt well as quickly as I did," Posey said. "Obviously, we've seen where something like that lasted longer for certain guys."

--- Here's the latest on Bruce Bochy, who underwent what is being described as a minor heart procedure in San Diego. And here's Ray Ratto with a big-picture look. This is the third heart-related scare for Bochy in three years. 

"We just want him to take care of himself, take his time, and make sure he's cleared," Posey said. "What we do (on the field) is secondary to other things in life."

--- Jeremy Affeldt will make his broadcast debut tonight. He's fired up about it, and he walked around the clubhouse Tuesday saying he now has authority to set the lineup. (He does not.)


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.”