Madison Bumgarner begins new life as Diamondbacks' tone-setting ace

Madison Bumgarner begins new life as Diamondbacks' tone-setting ace

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- So much about the scene was familiar. 

The black cowboy boots tucked underneath a clubhouse chair. The dozen heavy baseball bats lined up on the top row of the locker, just waiting for a chance to embarrass an opposing starter. The No. 40 on the back of the jersey. Even the fact that the owner of all these items was nowhere to be found at 7:30 a.m., having long since disappeared to the weight room or a back field where he could run sprints in peace.

The first day of Madison Bumgarner’s spring was exactly the same as all of the others in so many ways, except Bumgarner took part in a morning workout at Salt River Fields, not Scottsdale Stadium. He has for most of his professional life been famous enough that he’s the first starter to draw a crowd every spring, but this time, as Bumgarner spoke to a dozen reporters, he wore a black Arizona Diamondbacks cap.

This still is all hard to swallow for Giants fans. For Bumgarner it remains new, as well. Asked when he thought everything would feel normal, he smiled. 

"I'm hoping pretty soon," he said. "I'm still trying to find my way around the place."

Bumgarner's new spring home is a sprawling complex in North Scottsdale that is shared by the D-backs and Colorado Rockies and is the envy of the rest of the Cactus League. It's just six miles from Scottsdale Stadium, which is convenient for a player who still counts Buster Posey and other Giants veterans among his closest friends. 

Bumgarner is a D-back now, but he doesn't exactly plan to be a stranger. He quietly stopped by the new facility at Scottsdale Stadium on Tuesday to say hello to some old friends, and he said he's excited about the spring matchups between the teams and the six series they play every year. 

"It's going to be fun, I think," he said. "I've obviously said many times what San Francisco has meant to me and my family. I'm excited for that."

Bumgarner admitted he already is thinking about that first game against the Giants. He doesn't plan to face any NL West opponents during the spring, so the first time he sees his old teammates should be the second series of the year for both clubs. After his press conference Wednesday, Bumgarner stood in a corner of the room with Giants beat writers and talked about what's to come.

Has he already thought about facing Posey?

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah," he said quickly. "Yes."

Before the Giants and Bumgarner get to that point, perhaps one side will confront what really happened during the breakup. Bumgarner signed a five-year, $85 million deal with the Diamondbacks in December, choosing the NL West rival over the Giants, who sources have said offered about $70 million over four years. 

At the time, the Giants put out a statement thanking Bumgarner but did not go into detail. Two months later, Bumgarner said he didn't want to talk about those negotiations, preferring to keep the focus on a Diamondbacks team that provided everything he was looking for as a free agent. 

"A lot of ups and downs throughout the whole deal," Bumgarner said. "I was kind of prepared for a lot of different things, but in the winter it's different because you're at home and you're doing other things. Once the season starts, spring training starts, who knows the feelings you might get. But right now I'm just excited to be here and excited to get started with the Diamondbacks."

Bumgarner took part in his first team workout Wednesday morning and afterward said it felt pretty standard. "Baseball is baseball," he said. He expressed excitement about getting to know a young staff, and when questioned about his past couple of years, he said firmly that he believes he's the same pitcher he was five years ago. 

The D-backs are counting on that. Closer Archie Bradley said Bumgarner sent him a text shortly after signing and said he was ready to come in and compete. 

[RELATED: Shark will be tasked with leading Giants' staff this season]

"Not to put pressure on him by any means, but as a fan and a teammate, he sets the tone," Bradley said. 

For a decade, Bumgarner did that for the Giants. He'll now lead the way for the Diamondbacks, a dark horse contender in the NL. A lot has changed, but the expectations remain the same. Bumgarner seemed taken aback when a local reporter asked him what he expects from himself this year.

"What do I expect of myself?" he said. "To win a World Series again."

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

MLB rumors: League, MLBPA working on plan to start 2020 season in May

If you're going through withdrawals without baseball, there might be some good news for you.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday, citing sources, that MLB and the players' association are working on a plan that would eventually lead to the 2020 season starting sometime in May, with all games being played in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

No specific date in May was given, but Passan reported that the plan being worked on has the approval of "high-ranking federal public health officials."

The start of the 2020 season was delayed March 12 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to Passan, players, coaches and essential team personnel would be isolated at hotels in Arizona, and would only allowed to go back and forth between the hotel and the stadiums.

Passan reported, citing sources, that players appear to be skeptical of the idea of separating from their families for four-plus months.

Former A's pitcher Brett Anderson doesn't appear to be a fan of being separated from his family.

As you might expect, this plan is far from a certainty, and Passan reported, citing sources, that some officials believes a June start date for the season is more realistic.

In an interview with KNBR 680 on Friday, Giants CEO Larry Baer said he believes the idea of putting all 30 teams in Arizona might be the best option.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Baer said. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

It remains to be seen if the league and the players' association can clear all the hurdles to make this happen, but at the very least, it's a glimmer of hope for those craving to watch live baseball again.

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

Five things you might have forgotten about Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter

Programming note: Watch the re-air of Tim Lincecum's second no-hitter tonight at 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

It seems like just about every no-hitter includes that moment that turns a teammate into the game's second star. Gregor Blanco will forever be a big part of Matt Cain's perfect game, and Hunter Pence's diving catch was a memorable moment during Tim Lincecum's first no-hitter. 

But when Lincecum no-hit the Padres again a season later, there was very little drama. Nobody had to dive or leap over the top of the wall. Lincecum cruised, dominating the Padres with an onslaught of sliders -- he threw 40 of them and got 13 outs -- and inducing soft contact all afternoon. He calmly and efficiently put his name back in the record books. 

The second no-hitter in under a year made Lincecum one of just four pitchers since 1961 to pull that off. He joined Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers with multiple Cy Young Awards and multiple no-hitters, and Lincecum and Koufax are the only two who also have multiple World Series titles, as well.

It was a day that added one last highlight to one of the greatest runs in franchise history. "It was the Tim Lincecum show," Bruce Bochy said on June 25, 2014. "He really was an artist out there."

The show will re-air tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. As you watch, here are five things you might have forgotten about Lincecum's second no-hitter ...

Dual Threat

Lincecum truly was a remarkable athlete, although that rarely showed in other facets of the game. He was a smooth runner but not one of those pitchers that you would ever consider as a pinch-running weapon. And while he would occasionally get in a groove during BP, he never homered in a game and batted just .112 as a big leaguer. 

Lincecum had five multi-hit games, and one happened to come on this day. He singled in the third and again in the seventh, by which point the whole crowd knew what was at stake. When he met with reporters the next day, Lincecum admitted he watched highlights after the game, but not of his pitches.

"I watched the replay of my hits," he said. "I was really pumped about those, to be honest with you. I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't. I watched those quite a bit."

He Threw It With a Stache

One of the funniest parts about Lincecum's Giants career was that he often showed up to FanFest with an all-new look. No joke, reporters and cameramen would scramble to get a good spot in front of Lincecum's podium every February, knowing there was a decent chance you would have to send a photo out via Twitter right away.

One year, I sent out a FanFest photo and a couple hours later saw that it had been picked up by the New York Post. 

The 2014 tweak was one of the best. Lincecum showed up with a mustache, amusing his teammates and fans. 

The caterpillar was still going strong when he pitched his second no-hitter. 

(Sidebar: If you're not using shelter in place to experiment with a sweet stache, you're making a mistake.)

Memorable Defensive Day

This is one day that's missing from those #BusterHugs montages, because Posey played first base that day since it was a day game after a night game. He went 4-for-4 and drove in two of the runs.

That meant Hector Sanchez, 24 at the time, got to guide Lincecum through the day and sit on the podium with him afterwards. 

The final out was recorded by Joe Panik, who was making his fourth career start. 

No Time for Jinxes

Linecum was on second base during a pitching change in the seventh inning and he jogged over to the dugout, fist-bumping reliever Juan Gutierrez and chatting with third base coach Tim Flannery. Lincecum was about the last pitcher who would ever worry about the game's traditions, and he spent the final innings chatting it up with teammates. 

Asked later why he didn't sit by himself like most starters working on a no-hitter, Lincecum said, "It's more awkward when they don't talk to you than when they do." That makes a lot of sense, actually.  

Lincecum was carefree that entire day. At one point, the cameras caught him mimicking his own running style in the dugout:

Timmy Being Timmy

One of the main reasons Lincecum became such a fan favorite was how relatable he was. He would forget that the mic was live during on-field interviews with Amy Gutierrez. He would talk openly about how much he could eat at In-N-Out. There were other indulgences that were well known and fit in with the city he played in. 

So it wasn't much of a surprise when Lincecum smiled when a reporter asked how he would celebrate. 

"I'm going to go to my house and drink a little bit," he said. "Can I say that?"