Bumgarner allows nine runs, but rehab schedule looks right on track

Bumgarner allows nine runs, but rehab schedule looks right on track

SAN JOSE -- Madison Bumgarner's career California League ERA took a hit Wednesday night. He does not believe his rehab schedule did. 

Bumgarner gave up nine earned runs in his first San Jose Giants appearance in eight years, but he said he still hopes to be done with a lengthy rehab process after one more start in San Jose. All along, Bumgarner has targeted the first series of the second half for his return. He hopes to be back in the big leagues on July 15 in San Diego.

"It would have been nice to get up and down one more time but we got the pitch count up and that's ultimately all we're looking for," he said. "I felt good with the way my body felt. The command felt good. Obviously that's kind of a lopsided outing but my body feels pretty good.

"We've got hopefully just one more."

Bumgarner didn't spend much time here in 2009, posting a 1.48 ERA in five starts. He was making similarly quick work of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes until the fourth inning Wednesday.

The Giants were so encouraged by Bumgarner's simulated games last month in large part because he was pumping strikes, and the start of this night was no different. Bumgarner needed just 22 pitches to get through two, 19 of which were strikes. The lone hit was a solo homer from prospect Ibandel Isabel on a fly ball to right that kept carrying until it bounced off a wood sign inches above the yellow line.

The next Quakes hit went a bit further. DJ Peters, the Dodgers' fourth-round pick a year ago, hit a no-doubter to left on a grooved cutter in the fourth. The homer was Peters' 17th of the year and he added another later in the eight-run inning. Bumgarner gave up eight hits in the frame, including three homers to left. He did not seem particularly bothered.

"They've got their game plan and I've got mine," he said. "Not to take anything away from those guys."

Bumgarner credited the young Quakes for barreling a lot of balls, but he was here for pitch count and it was at 76 after the fourth. Bumgarner hoped to get up and down five times, but said four was fine. 

Per scouts behind the plate, Bumgarner's velocity was 90-91 throughout the night. His cutter lacked some snap, one said, and another scout noted that Bumgarner's off-speed pitches are behind his fastball. Bumgarner recognized that, saying his backdoor cutter needs work. The young Quakes took advantage.

"Next time we'll throw more," Bumgarner said of one of his bread and butter pitches. 

The time after that will likely be back on a big league mound.

Giants Review: For second straight year, Slater ends with an injury


Giants Review: For second straight year, Slater ends with an injury

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants drafted Austin Slater in 2014, watched him hit his way through the minors, and had him in their big-league lineup more than 100 times the past two seasons. They still don’t quite know what he is as a major leaguer, though. 

Slater, at his best, has a strong arm in the outfield, an opposite-fields approach that can put him on base a lot, and enough tools to be a solid contributor. But there’s no doubt that he needs a serious launch-angle adjustment, and he had some odd moments defensively in 2018. 

As they summarized the season, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy didn’t exactly light up when asked about Slater. 

“Slater, we’ve got some work to do there,” Bochy said.

“I think Slater needs to make some swing adjustments,” Sabean added, “But he’s certainly shown that he can be an extra player.”

The Giants have more time to try and figure out how Slater fits. In 2018, he showed positives and negatives … 

What Went Right

Slater had four separate runs in the big leagues, and through his first 36 games, he was batting .308 with a .429 on-base percentage. He showed off some impressive raw physical tools. His only homer of the year went 425 feet, and he threw a runner out at the plate with a 99.6 mph throw. Slater had two of the 28 hardest throws from the outfield in MLB in 2018 and six throws that registered at 95 mph or above; Alen Hanson, with one throw at 95.6, was the only other Giants outfielder to clear that barrier. Slater is also sneaky on the bases; he was successful on all seven stolen base attempts. 

Slater hit .274 with runners in scoring position and .370 with runners in scoring position and two outs. That simple swing can come in handy sometimes. 

What Went Wrong

In the era of Launch Angle, Slater is doing it his own way. His 63.1 groundball rate was the highest in the Majors and his 16.2 percent flyball rate was the lowest. This added up to just one homer, one triple and six doubles. There were 177 NL hitters who got at least 200 plate appearances and Slater ranked 164th in slugging percentage (.307). The lack of pop dragged his OPS down to .640 and was a source of a lot of discussion for the staff. They want to see him catch the ball out front and use some of his natural power, but that hasn’t shown in two seasons. As Sabean said, the Giants want to see swing adjustments. 

That could be hard to do if Slater’s elbow proves to be an issue. He came out of a game the final weekend with elbow pain and an MRI showed a mild sprain. The Giants are hopeful that Slater is ready for spring training, but there are no guarantees with the elbow. Serious injuries there aren't just limited to pitchers. 

Contract Status

Slater still has not accrued much service time. He has two minor-league options remaining. 

The Future

First of all, Slater’s immediate future will come down to how healthy he is. There was some concern about his elbow as the Giants packed up for the season, and if he eventually needs some sort of procedure that obviously would be a big blow.

The good news for Slater is that he certainly has shown enough of a hit tool and enough promise defensively that he should, at the very least, be a strong bench option. He was better than expected at first base, and as a fourth outfielder/backup first baseman/pinch-hitter, he should be on the Opening Day roster. Team officials want to see more — specifically, more power — before putting him in an outfield corner on an everyday basis, but if the Giants are unable to sign veterans, Slater very well could start in left or right on Opening Day. 

Giants, Charles Johnson issue statements about racist campaign ad


Giants, Charles Johnson issue statements about racist campaign ad

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants and Charles Johnson, who is believed to own the largest stake in the team, released a pair of statements Friday afternoon after it was revealed that Johnson donated to a super PAC that made a racist radio ad in Arkansas. 

The ad, paid for by a group called Black Americans for the President's Agenda, was made in support of congressman French Hill. It featured two women speaking, one of whom said, in part, "white Democrats will be lynching black folk again." According to ThinkProgress, the super PAC spent $50,000 on the ad. Johnson reportedly gave the group $1,000. 

“I had absolutely no knowledge that this donation would be used in this manner and I, like the Giants organization, strongly condemn any form of racism and in no way condone the advertisement that was created by this entity,” Johnson said in his statement. 

The Giants called the ad "disturbing and divisive." 

“The Giants’ reputation as one of the most inclusive and socially engaged professional sports teams in the nation speaks for itself," the team's statement read. "We are unaware of Mr. Johnson’s political donations because they are entirely separate from his stake in the Giants ownership group.  In no way do the Giants condone this disturbing and divisive political activity."