MILWAUKEE — Madison Bumgarner walked into the dugout during batting practice earlier this week and grabbed one of Jeff Samardzija’s bats. He started gripping it and lightly waving it back and forth, and then he looked up at trainer Dave Groeschner with an expectant look on his face.
No, Bumgarner has not yet been cleared to take batting practice, which is a downer this week. He would regularly take aim at the slide and back concourse here at Miller Park.
There are positive signs elsewhere, however. Bumgarner has played catch nearly every day for the past week, and he’s starting to stretch out the distance. He's at about 90 feet at this point. Bumgarner has avoided giving interviews for the most part, but manager Bruce Bochy said their daily conversations are positive.
“He still has some work ahead of him, but he feels better each day,” Bochy said. “I told him, ‘Be honest, how are you feeling?’ He says as when he starts out, he feels (the shoulder) a little bit. But once he gets going it goes away. “
Bumgarner has had no setbacks during flat-ground throwing, but he’s still a ways away from getting on a mound. Bochy said it could be several more weeks. At this point, Bumgarner is in pre-spring training mode.
In the meantime, the Giants haven’t missed much of a beat with Ty Blach inserted in the rotation. Blach is even taking his Mini Bumgarner routine into batting practice. He hit one halfway up the second deck Monday, earning cheers from the fellow pitchers.
--- Jarrett Parker will be reevaluated once the Giants return home Friday, and after that it could just be a few days before he starts a rehab assignment. He isn’t particularly close to the big leagues, though. Bochy said Parker will need a lengthy rehab assignment, so you’re probably looking at a couple weeks or more in the minors. Bochy said Parker still can make something of a season that started with a starting job.
“There’s plenty of time,” he said. “We’re one-third of the way through the season and he’ll be back, I’m guessing, before we’re at the halfway point.”
Parker was the first Giant to play left field this season. Austin Slater became the 12th on Tuesday. What would Bochy have said if you told him that before the season?
“I would have said things are not going very well in left field,” he said.
That’s an understatement. Entering Tuesday’s game, opening day third baseman Eduardo Nuñez had the most at-bats (66) in left field, followed by Chris Marrero (who is now playing in Japan) and Brandon Belt.
The Giants have already had seven players get at least 10 at-bats in left and Slater should soon make it eight. By comparison, only four players did that all of last season. Only seven Giants got an at-bat in left last season (plus Cory Gearrin, who played a couple minutes defensively).
--- Elias dug deep on the Jeff Samardzija stat we’ve all been tweeting/writing: Samardzija is actually the only pitcher in their recorded history (going back to 1900) to have a seven-start stretch of at least 50 strikeouts and just one walk.
There's no indication that the Giants are considering including Samardzija in any mid-season sale, but he would be an interesting chip. His FIP is down to 2.90 and the xFIP is 2.73, so organizations that avoid the win-loss record will see one of the best starting pitchers in the NL.
--- From last night, here's what Bruce Bochy had to say about Sam Dyson, who will join the Giants later this week.