Giants place Madison Bumgarner on disabled list after dirt bike accident

Giants place Madison Bumgarner on disabled list after dirt bike accident

DENVER -- The coaching staff always looks forward to an off day for a struggling team, but at the same time, those rare days come with a certain sense of fear. On Thursday, those fears were realized.

Madison Bumgarner had a dirt bike accident in the Denver area Thursday and sustained bruised ribs and a sprain of his throwing shoulder. Bumgarner was briefly hospitalized and the initial diagnosis of the injury was a grade one or two AC sprain. The Giants did not immediately have a timetable for return. Bumgarner was resting at the team hotel Friday and he will be reevaluated next week.

“Here’s a young guy who, like a lot of us, thinks you’re invincible,” said manager Bruce Bochy, who met with Bumgarner before coming to Coors Field. “He was having some fun and he hit a slippery spot and went down … If I was there, sure, I wouldn’t have let him on the bike. I sure looking back, Madison wishes he hadn’t gone on. He was remorseful. Hopefully this is a lesson learned throughout our club and sports, that you’ve got to be careful.”

Bumgarner was not with teammates when the accident happened. Bochy said he drove himself back to the team hotel and called trainer Dave Groeschner, who took Bumgarner to a local hospital for X-rays, an MRI and a CT scan. He is expected to stay in the Denver area through the weekend but was not expected to address the situation until Monday.

Ty Blach will take Bumgarner's spot in the rotation and start Tuesday against the Dodgers. Right-hander Chris Stratton was called up to take Blach's bullpen spot.

"You don't worry about making it up, honestly," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "You worry about their health (and) we'll see all that as it progresses ... Off days are the freaking worst for all of us and have been for years, but we don't get many and when we do guys do things they might be missing out on."

Righetti and Bumgarner exchanged texts, and Righetti and several players said that the injuries could have been much worse, given what they knew about the accident. The clubhouse was closed for a team meeting Friday afternoon as players learned details about the situation.

"The main thing here is to be grateful he's not hurt worse than he is," catcher Buster Posey said. "You have to look at that. We're thankful he's not hurt any worse."

There is no downplaying the blow the Giants have taken on the field. The Giants have not won any of Bumgarner's four starts -- he has received five total runs of support -- but he has a 3.00 ERA and looked headed for his best all-around season. Bumgarner hit two homers in the season opener. This is his first DL stint.

Posey said the Giants, already off to a slow start, can't press.

"Baseball is the type of sport where sometimes if you try to do more it works against you," he said. "I do believe you can intensify your focus, but there's a line you've got to go up to and not go over."

Players generally have clauses in their contracts that prohibit any off-field activities that could be viewed as dangerous. The contracts are detailed, and several players said Friday that they are not allowed to ride dirt bikes, but that all contracts include different language. It's not known if Bumgarner's contract included wording about dirt bikes, but the Giants do not plan to impose any punishment. 

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.”