Giants

Bumgarner looks ready for regular season in multiple ways

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USATSI

Bumgarner looks ready for regular season in multiple ways

MESA — The Giants and Cubs played in front of a Cactus League-record crowd of 15,849 human beings on Tuesday night, so in many respects this was as close as you can get to a big league atmosphere in mid-March. Throw in the fact that Sloan Park is one of the few in Arizona with a visible radar gun and this was a night to learn some things about the Giants. 

First and foremost, Madison Bumgarner is ready for opening day. 

Bumgarner gave up two solo homers in his five innings of work but was otherwise dominant, striking out seven and walking none. He was sitting at 93 mph in his final inning, a good sign for this time of year. Bumgarner has two starts remaining before his first of the regular season. 

“I feel good. I feel no lingering anything,” he said. “I feel fresh. I feel like I’m right on schedule. Now it’s time to start dialing into game-type stuff.”

Bumgarner did that in a way identifiable to him. Ian Happ led off the game by blasting a fastball out to left field, and their next two matchups had a little extra juice. Happ was swinging so hard his second time up that his helmet popped off twice, and Bumgarner certainly noticed. After striking Happ out, he muttered a few words on the mound. When some Cubs started chirping from the dugout, there was a brief staring contest between Bumgarner and members of the home team. 

Happ came up again in the fifth and swung from his heels at a first-pitch fastball. Bumgarner followed with a big slow curve that Happ was way ahead of, and later in the at-bat he put him away with another curveball. As Happ walked out of the batter’s box, Bumgarner gave a quick shake of the head. 

The orneriness that is there so often during the regular season is getting dialed in, too, and Bumgarner even had a chance to show off another well-known trait. He was the first Giants pitcher to get an at-bat this spring, striking out against Tyler Chatwood, who dominated the Giants as he always has. 

The radar gun allowed another Giant, one who has never seen the big leagues, to show his stuff. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, hit 100 mph with his second pitch and sat 98-99 the rest of a perfect inning. He struck out the first batter he faced on a 97 mph fastball. After allowing eight runs his first two times out, Fernandez has allowed two in his last three appearances, with five strikeouts in three innings. He is still a long shot to make the roster, but at the very least, he is showing why the Giants plucked him out of A-ball. 

“We had to slow him down a bit (early in camp) … you see how amped up he is,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s gotten more and more comfortable out there. This was a good test for him, a night game against the Cubs and the park was packed. Tonight was I thought as close to a major league game as it gets (here) and he handled himself well.”

Not ready for major moves, Giants swap one young outfielder for another

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AP

Not ready for major moves, Giants swap one young outfielder for another

SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s all you need to know about the current situation in left field, an ongoing black hole for the Giants for years on end: Alen Hanson, a utility infielder, has gotten two of the last three starts there, and that could be the norm for a while. 

The Giants made an outfield move Saturday morning, but it was not one that will particularly shake things up. This was more about kicking a painful decision down the road. Mac Williamson, who was struggling since returning from a concussion, was optioned back to Triple-A. Austin Slater, who was hitting .344 at that level with 24 doubles and five homers, was recalled, but he will not get an everyday look. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Hunter Pence likely will start in left on Sunday and indicated that Hanson will get additional time there as the Giants try to take advantage of one of their hottest bats. There are no indications that the team is ready to make a more serious move, such as parting ways with Pence — who has a .463 OPS — or Austin Jackson, who is at .603. 

“These guys have had success in the major leagues,” Bochy said. “It could be a game or two that everything clicks.”

Pence is a fan favorite who is in the last year of a lucrative deal, and Jackson is not even a quarter of the way through a two-year deal. Both were relegated to backup duty recently by Gorkys Hernandez and Williamson, but the latter had seen his OPS drop to .516 after hitting three homers before his concussion. 

“We just want Mac to get back to playing every day and get his swing back to where it was when we brought him up earlier before his concussion,” Bochy said. “

Williamson has a 1.525 OPS in two minor league stints this season. If he can recapture any of that magic, made possible by an offseason swing overhaul, perhaps the Giants will come to terms with the situation at the big league level. For now, they will continue to roll with veterans, hoping that they break out. Bochy said Pence and Jackson are working hard every day to contribute in limited roles. 

“I know how hard this game can be when you’re not playing every day,” he said. 

The problem is that that is the role. The Giants need their backup outfielders to produce as pinch-hitters, but Jackson is 2-for-15 off the bench and Pence is 1-for-10. Slater, with his simple swing and gap power, could be intriguing in that role, and perhaps he’ll stick. For now, he appears to be the only reinforcement coming. Bochy said there have been no discussions about promoting Steven Duggar. 

Giants can't solve Richard as winning streak comes to an end

Giants can't solve Richard as winning streak comes to an end

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Richard pitched three-hit ball over six innings for his fourth consecutive win and the San Diego Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 on Friday night.

Eric Hosmer and Manuel Margot each had two hits and two RBIs as the Padres snapped a five-game skid. Travis Jankowski and Cory Spangenberg added two hits apiece.

Richard (7-6) was dominant in his third start against the Giants this season. He retired 17 straight during one stretch, allowed only two runners past second base and struck out four. The four consecutive wins mark a career high for the left-hander.

San Diego's bullpen made Richard's performance hold up, but it was dicey at times.

Padres manager Andy Green used three relievers to get out of the seventh. Kirby Yates allowed a leadoff single in the eighth before setting down the next three. Brad Hand retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Gorkys Hernandez doubled twice off Richard.

San Diego scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on a throwing error by catcher Nick Hundley.

Spangenberg slid into first base with an infield single after initially being called out. After Freddy Galvis singled Spangenberg to third, Hundley blocked a wild pitch by starting pitcher Chris Stratton but threw the ball into center field, allowing Spangenberg to score. Margot followed with an RBI single.

Sandoval's two-out single in the seventh off Craig Stammen trimmed San Diego's lead to 3-2 before the Padres scored three in the ninth.

Stratton (8-5) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres:Austin Hedges (elbow tendinitis) continues to make progress in his rehab start with Triple-A El Paso and could rejoin the team soon. The Chihuahuas are playing a series against San Francisco's affiliate in Sacramento, about 80 minutes north AT&T Park.

Giants: The team is undecided what the next step will be for Jeff Samardzija after the right-hander gave up four runs in four innings with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday. Manager Bruce Bochy said it's possible Samardzija will make at least one more rehab start before rejoining the big league club.

UP NEXT

RHP Jordan Lyles (2-4, 4.46 ERA) pitches for San Diego on Saturday in the third game of the series. It will be Lyles' ninth start, his most since 2015. LHP Andrew Suarez(2-4, 4.70) goes for San Francisco.