Madison Bumgarner

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

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USATSI

Bumgarner has pins removed from pinky, to begin strengthening program

PHOENIX -- The removal of three small pins in Madison Bumgarner's left pinky represented a big step for the pitcher. 

Bumgarner had the pins taken out Thursday and he now will begin the process of strengthening his hand, which was fractured during his final spring training appearance. He could begin playing catch in two weeks. 

"Once he gets that going, I think you'll see him make real progress," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

It still will be a long process for Bumgarner, who is on the 60-day DL and not eligible to return until May 26. It seems unlikely that he's ready on that day, but it could be soon thereafter. Bumgarner will need to play catch for a bit before starting bullpen sessions and eventually a real rehab assignment. Realistically, the Giants are hopeful that he'll be back in the rotation in early June. Bochy said he wouldn't be surprised if Bumgarner beats the initial timetable. 

"But it all depends on (how he feels) when he starts throwing," Bochy added. 

The Giants will get another key pitcher back Friday when Jeff Samardzija makes his season debut. 

--- Hunter Pence has a sore right thumb and wasn't in Thursday's lineup. The timing is, well, interesting. Mac Williamson wasn't in Triple-A Sacramento's lineup, so this could be the time a move is made, but the Giants also will need to clear a spot for Samardzija and they're hoping to stick with eight relievers for now. Stay tuned.

'I think that's a little conservative' -- Bumgarner will try to beat Giants' timeline

'I think that's a little conservative' -- Bumgarner will try to beat Giants' timeline

SAN FRANCISCO — The least surprising development of the home opener happened when Madison Bumgarner was told that management is eyeing an early June return. 

“I think that’s a little conservative,” he said. 

Bumgarner will, of course, try to beat the original estimates, but he knows there’s only so much he can do. He has three pins in his hand to stabilize a fractured metacarpal but he is able to do his usual cardio work and said he can continue with his usual shoulder-strengthening exercises. He’ll be ready to attack the rehab starts when the pins come out. 

“It just depends on how the bone heals,” he said. “I never thought I would be shut down so much by a pinky.”

The Giants anticipate Bumgarner needing another three to five weeks with the pins, and then it should be about two weeks of strengthening exercises. It seems reasonable that he could be making rehab appearances in mid-May. Bumgarner saw a doctor while the team was in Los Angeles and he has a follow-up appointment in two weeks, at which point he’ll have a better idea of his timetable. His hand is covered by a soft cast similar to the ones players where when they’re running the bases. 

Bumgarner is dealing with this kind of shutdown for a second consecutive season. He said he’s doing fine mentally. 

“I’m good,” he said. “I try to be the same guy day in and day out, no matter what the situation is.”

Giants prepare for life without Bumgarner: 'We just hope that someone can step up'

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AP

Giants prepare for life without Bumgarner: 'We just hope that someone can step up'

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."