Giants spring training Day 31: Bumgarner dominates in lengthy outing

Giants spring training Day 31: Bumgarner dominates in lengthy outing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants had Madison Bumgarner set for four or five innings on Wednesday. The ace blew right past that in one of the most efficient outings you’ll see in a Cactus League game. 

Bumgarner allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings and he worked so quickly that the Giants actually had to come up short of his scheduled pitch count. As he hit the 70-pitch mark, Bumgarner had already thrown six innings and taken two at-bats. 

“Every time out it’s a little better, a little better,” he said. “Today was by far the best. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at.”

If Bumgarner looks this sharp on March 15, what will he do until the April 2 opener? Perhaps, he’ll turn to his other on-field passion. Bumgarner was 0-for-2 as the first Giants pitcher to hit this spring, striking out twice and throwing his bat into the stands down the third-base line on one swing. How did he grade the first day in the batter’s box?

“Pretty not very good,” he said. 

Manager Bruce Bochy had Bumgarner hitting eighth, and he said it’s something he’ll look at in the regular season if the Giants have multiple speedy leadoff types in the lineup. That process will ramp up in the coming weeks, as pitchers take more and more at-bats and start to get back into the flow. On the mound, Bochy doesn’t need to see much more. 

“That’s just a great outing for him,” Bochy said. “He pounded the strike zone and had everything going. You look at an outing like today and you think he’s ready, but he needs a couple more outings. He’ll tell you that.”

CUETO WATCH: Over at the minor league facility, Johnny Cueto also looked to be near regular season form. Making his second appearance of the spring, Cueto allowed two hits and struck out three in 3 2/3 innings. He threw 53 pitches. 

Cueto still has not fully ruled out a WBC cameo. There’s a small chance that he joins the Dominican Republic team for the final round. 

LINEUP CHANGE? Bochy had Eduardo Nuñez hitting second and Joe Panik seventh against lefty Tyler Skaggs, and he said the staff is talking about that as an option for real games. 

“Nuney, you saw what he did today,” Bochy said. 

Nuñez manufactured the first run of the day, doubling in the sixth and stealing third ahead of an RBI groundout by Mac Williamson. He hit righties better last season, but his .751 OPS was still way ahead of Panik’s .596. 

HIGHLIGHT REEL: Nuñez and Panik teamed up for a nifty double play to end the third inning. Nuñez snagged Yunel Escobar’s grounder and made a tricky overhand throw from the ground to Panik, who hung in on the bag and made a strong throw to first. They’ll have easier opportunities later this spring. Bochy said he’s going to get Nuñez a few starts at shortstop.

STARTER WATCH: Ty Blach’s first inning out of the bullpen was a nightmare: Five straight hits and four Angels runs. Bochy seemed more interested in what happened next. Blach came out for the eighth and cruised.

“What I like about it is the next inning he goes out and really has a solid inning,” Bochy said. “He didn’t let it fluster him.”

In the race for the No. 5 spot — which has tightened up quite a bit — Blach didn’t do himself any favors Wednesday, but he certainly showed some mettle. 

STOCK RISING: Michael Morse crushed a double off the left-center wall that was about two feet from being a homer and he later added a tie-breaking single. His spring average is up to .304 with a 1.016 OPS, and he’s moving well at first base.  

“Mo is swinging it well,” Bochy said. “He’s really seeing the ball well. It’s evident he worked hard to come in and try to make the club.”

Another couple of weeks like this might do it. After a slow start, Morse has five hits in his past three games, including two homers. 

“Early on, everything was there but I was just missing off the end of the bat,” he said. “Now I’m seeing the ball deeper and getting it on the barrel more.”


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.

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.