Bumgarner to be Giants' No.2 starter?

February 29, 2012, 9:03 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch aninning in the Giants first Cactus League game Saturday, and hell take thebaseball April 6 for what would be his fourth opening-day assignment.Not much of a surprise, right? Well, how about Madison Bumgarnerin the No.2 slot?Manager BruceBochy said Bumgarner would start one game in Sundays exhibition split squadand the staff has talked about slotting the 22-year-old left-hander in a primeposition to start the season in between Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Thats a possibility, Bochy said of Bumgarner, whoselocation has been pinpoint in two sessions against hitters.Its a vote of confidence in Bumgarner but also a signalthat the coaching staff is concerned about Ryan Vogelsong, whose strained lowerback has prevented him from ascending a mound. If left-hander Eric Surkamp mustreplace Vogelsong in the rotation, the Giants would begin the season with threesouthpaws in the Nos. 3-5 spots. Moving up Bumgarner in front of Cain couldsplit up that group.Bochy has given enough thought to that possibility that hemet with Cain on Wednesday to explain the situation.Cain is scheduled to pitch an exhibition on Monday withBarry Zito backing him up.Well see how it goes with Vogelsong, Bochy said. Knockon wood, itll go well. We dont think its something well need to do. Butif he has a hiccup or we dont think hes quite ready, thats a way we couldgo.The Giants dont believe Buster Posey is ready for a bigtest in Saturdays exhibition opener. Bochy said Posey more than likely wontcatch, but later said its possible the cleanup hitter could get one inningbehind the plate. The Giants and Diamondbacks cold agree to employ a DH, whichis a common practice for NL clubs early in the spring.Lincecum didnt pitch on Wednesday, which would be hisnormal day to throw batting practice. Instead, hell throw off a bullpen moundon Thursday as the Giants continue to take extra precautions because of thelower back tightness that set him back earlier this spring.But opening day is Lincecums assignment. Thats fair tosay, Bochy intoned.Surkamp, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Guillermo Mota areother pitchers on the list to follow Lincecum when the Giants play host to theArizona Diamondbacks.Bumgarner will start for Sundays split-squad against theMilwaukee Brewers at Maryvale. Brian Burres will start for the other squadagainst Arizona at Salt River Fields.Bumgarner still ranks as the youngest pitcher in camp, butit didnt quicken his pulse to hear he could pitch on the day between Lincecumand Cain.Ill be excited first, third, fifth, wherever, he said,pulling on a pair of cowboy boots. Its just fun to pitch any doesntmatter.So not a big deal?Definitely not, he said.Bumgarner puts more stock into the way hes throwing thisspring. His fastball is popping and his location might be the best of anypitcher in camp.I feel really good, he said. Ahead of schedule. Its beenbetter than usual and I definitely feel good with where Im at.