SACRAMENTO -- As the Giants took batting practice at Raley Field on Saturday afternoon, the scoreboard in center field offered an unfortunate reminder of their new reality. The River Cats are giving away Madison Bumgarner t-shirts on April 13, and the promotional material remains prominently displayed at their ballpark.
Bumgarner will be back here rehabbing at some point for a second straight summer, but it will be long after his giveaway day. A day after taking a line drive off his pitching hand, Bumgarner had surgery to have three pins inserted to stabilize his fractured fifth metacarpal. While manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes to get his ace back in two months, the Giants are internally preparing for a potential absence of 12 weeks.
In the meantime, the rotation will be remarkably inexperienced. Ty Blach is slated to start opening day at Dodger Stadium, with Derek Holland -- a non-roster invitee -- and Chris Stratton pitching after Johnny Cueto. Because they have two early off days, the Giants will skip their fifth starter until April 10.
The hope is that the fifth turn comes up just two or three times before Jeff Samardzija (strained pectoral) is healthy, so for now the Giants are leaning toward internal help. General manager Bobby Evans said no trades or signings were imminent. Prospects Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top candidates to fill out the rotation until Samardzija returns.
"They're both ready to help," Evans said.
So, too, are the rest of the Giants. The theme in the clubhouse Saturday was that the other 24 must keep the team afloat while Bumgarner heals. But there was no sugar-coating the magnitude of the blow.
"It's tough...Bum is irreplaceable," Brandon Crawford said. "We just hope that someone can step up and fill in for the time being."
Hunter Pence said the news was especially hard to hear because of how much work teammates watched Bumgarner put in this spring. The lefty appeared poised for a career year while dominating the Cactus League.
"It's unfortunate," Pence said. "We've got a lot of good position players and we have a good defense, and we've got to pull our weight until he gets back."
Bochy said Bumgarner was in good spirits despite losing a chunk of his season for a second straight year. The pins will be in his hand for at least four weeks, and then it's back to the rehab trail.
"The good news that we got this morning is that they really felt good about the surgery," Bochy said. "He's such a tough guy. He handles this stuff well, he does. And I'll say this, for the six weeks out there in spring he looked as good as I've seen, and that's saying a lot.
"He was throwing the ball beautifully so that's the thing that makes me sick about this too, along with we're losing our number one guy. But he's doing fine. It happens, unfortunately, in this game but what's important is how we all respond to it."