DENVER -- The coaching staff always looks forward to an off day for a struggling team, but at the same time, those rare days come with a certain sense of fear. On Thursday, those fears were realized.
Madison Bumgarner had a dirt bike accident in the Denver area Thursday and sustained bruised ribs and a sprain of his throwing shoulder. Bumgarner was briefly hospitalized and the initial diagnosis of the injury was a grade one or two AC sprain. The Giants did not immediately have a timetable for return. Bumgarner was resting at the team hotel Friday and he will be reevaluated next week.
“Here’s a young guy who, like a lot of us, thinks you’re invincible,” said manager Bruce Bochy, who met with Bumgarner before coming to Coors Field. “He was having some fun and he hit a slippery spot and went down … If I was there, sure, I wouldn’t have let him on the bike. I sure looking back, Madison wishes he hadn’t gone on. He was remorseful. Hopefully this is a lesson learned throughout our club and sports, that you’ve got to be careful.”
Bumgarner was not with teammates when the accident happened. Bochy said he drove himself back to the team hotel and called trainer Dave Groeschner, who took Bumgarner to a local hospital for X-rays, an MRI and a CT scan. He is expected to stay in the Denver area through the weekend but was not expected to address the situation until Monday.
Ty Blach will take Bumgarner's spot in the rotation and start Tuesday against the Dodgers. Right-hander Chris Stratton was called up to take Blach's bullpen spot.
"You don't worry about making it up, honestly," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "You worry about their health (and) we'll see all that as it progresses ... Off days are the freaking worst for all of us and have been for years, but we don't get many and when we do guys do things they might be missing out on."
Righetti and Bumgarner exchanged texts, and Righetti and several players said that the injuries could have been much worse, given what they knew about the accident. The clubhouse was closed for a team meeting Friday afternoon as players learned details about the situation.
"The main thing here is to be grateful he's not hurt worse than he is," catcher Buster Posey said. "You have to look at that. We're thankful he's not hurt any worse."
There is no downplaying the blow the Giants have taken on the field. The Giants have not won any of Bumgarner's four starts -- he has received five total runs of support -- but he has a 3.00 ERA and looked headed for his best all-around season. Bumgarner hit two homers in the season opener. This is his first DL stint.
Posey said the Giants, already off to a slow start, can't press.
"Baseball is the type of sport where sometimes if you try to do more it works against you," he said. "I do believe you can intensify your focus, but there's a line you've got to go up to and not go over."
Players generally have clauses in their contracts that prohibit any off-field activities that could be viewed as dangerous. The contracts are detailed, and several players said Friday that they are not allowed to ride dirt bikes, but that all contracts include different language. It's not known if Bumgarner's contract included wording about dirt bikes, but the Giants do not plan to impose any punishment.