Bumgarner deals while Greinke heals

Bumgarner deals while Greinke heals
March 11, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Madison Bumgarner pitched four shutout innings Monday in Surprise to pick up his first win of the spring. (AP)

BOX SCORE

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Buster Posey had just gotten done catching four remarkably crisp innings from Madison Bumgarner, who will start the second game of the season April 2 at Dodger Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ anticipated opponent for that game, Zack Greinke, was back in Los Angeles to have his inflamed right elbow examined.

So I asked Posey … How does the Giants rotation stack up to the Dodgers’ starting five now?

“I think there should be some good games,” Posey said. “They’ve got some talented players over there and we’ve got some talented players as well.”

No, you won’t get bulletin board from Buster. But it’s been true in the NL West for years, and it’s likely to be the case in 2013: the team with the firmest starting pitching should take the division.

The Dodgers certainly spent their way into the conversation. They signed Greinke for $147 million, the richest sum ever given to a right-handed pitcher. And they committed $63 million to Hyun-Jin Ryu, counting the posting fee they paid to his Korean club.

Greinke’s tests showed only inflammation and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters that he still expects his new co-ace to take the ball for his first turn in the rotation, one day after Clayton Kershaw faces Matt Cain. (It should be noted that Cain had elbow inflammation two springs ago, then didn't miss a single start during that regular season.)

The Dodgers haven’t announced an order beyond Kershaw and Greinke, but they seemingly have a top two that matches up with anyone in baseball.

I asked Bumgarner what he thought about the Dodgers rotation.

“Who’ve they got?” he said.

Well, Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Ted Lilly, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang…

“They’re going to have an eight-man rotation?” Bumgarner said, smiling.

“I don’t know, that sounds like a pretty good pitching staff. We’ve got a pretty good staff. I’ve said it many times: Our staff’s as good as anyone’s at times, and at times, it’s not. You’ll have those points in the season. But I’ll take our guys any time.”

Bumgarner looks to be finding his form. He hit 93 mph and had his best changeup of the spring while facing most of the Texas Rangers’ regulars in a 2-1 victory at Surprise. Bumgarner had a good feel for his curveball, too. He struck out four in four shutout innings.

“He moved the ball to both sides of the plate, threw changeups for strikes and worked the curveball in,” Posey said. “The ball is coming out on a good plane. Compared to the last outing, he was definitely more downhill.”

I took one more run at Posey, in jest.

“I forgot," I said. "Did you say the Giants rotation was better or the Dodgers rotation was better?”

“I don’t think I did either, did I?” Posey said, smiling.

As we headed up the stairs back to the press box, the Chronicle’s John Shea nudged me.

“You’re fishing in the wrong pond,” he said.

Truer words were never spoken.

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