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SCOTTSDALE -- Madison Bumgarner will start on opening day. 

Surprise!

Bruce Bochy made it officially official on Thursday after confirming that Bumgarner will make his first Cactus League appearance on Sunday. Clayton Kershaw will do the same, and the two are set to tangle at Dodger Stadium on the first day of the season. Bumgarner's opening day start will be his fifth straight. 

There won’t be any surprises after that, either, Bochy said. The rotation likely will include the durable Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, along with young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach, but the staff doesn’t feel the need to split up the latter two so that the bullpen can help out more on Stratton or Blach days. 

It’s possible that one of the two is skipped because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, and Bochy said the staff also could shake up the order on an off day if the bullpen is pitching too many innings on back-to-back Stratton-Blach days. But for now, there’s a belief that the workload will be relatively even. 

“That’s why I’m confident,” Bochy said. “Those two (Stratton and Blach) are durable and can get you somewhat deep into the game. We have coverage there with the bullpen, but it’s not like I’m concerned.”

Blach slowed down toward the end of the season, but at one point he had a string of eight consecutive starts of six-plus innings. If you take out the night when he faced just one batter because of rain, Stratton averaged 5 2/3 innings per start. 

 

--- Blach will start Friday’s Cactus League opener, but it’ll mostly be backups in the field. Nick Hundley will catch, Ryder Jones is at first, Miguel Gomez is at second, Kelby Tomlinson (Tommy Ball, Bochy said) is at short and Pablo Sandoval is at third. Jarrett Parker will be the DH.

The outfield is interesting, though. Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen both wanted to play and Steven Duggar will start in center. Asked about McCutchen, Bochy smiled.

“You saw McCutchen’s batting practice,” he said. “Wouldn’t you put him in there?”

McCutchen took Madison Bumgarner deep during live BP earlier in the week.

--- My main story today is about Duggar and his bid to follow Brandon Crawford’s path. Also, if you’ve never seen him — and you probably haven’t — here’s some footage of Duggar’s short swing. 

--- Some housekeeping: Tyler Cyr, Andrew Suarez, Pierce Johnson, D.J. Snelten and Madison Younginer will follow Blach on Friday. Stratton, Tyler Herb, Jose Valdez, Steven Okert, Roberto Gomez and Reyes Moronta are on the list for Saturday. 

The Saturday game is in Glendale, which is a bit of a drive by Cactus League standards, and Bochy approached a group of veterans and asked which one would volunteer to make the trip. Brandon Belt raised his hand.

“He’s the early leader for the Willie Mac Award,” a teammate joked. 

--- Willie Mays showed up in the clubhouse Thursday. McCutchen immediately sat down at the table and started chatting. 

--- Quote of the day, from Bochy, on his conversation telling Pence that he would be moving to left field: “There wasn't even a thought process when I was talking to him about it. He was so excited to get Andrew.”