Bumgarner to be Giants' No.2 starter?

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Bumgarner to be Giants' No.2 starter?

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.

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

Bochy evaluates Arroyo's slump, does not rule out sending him down

CHICAGO — Bruce Bochy planned to give Christian Arroyo the day off Thursday as more of a mental break than a physical one. Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring had other ideas. 

Nuñez thought he was fine Wednesday, that he just had a cramp, but he felt continued tightness in his left hamstring when he went back to the team hotel and he was scratched from the lineup late Thursday morning. Arroyo is back at third, hitting eighth. He’s hitless in his last 15 at-bats and his average has dipped to .196. 

“I brought him in and talked to him,” Bochy said. “He knew the situation. He’s a tough kid and he wants to play and fight through this skid. He’s handling it well, he’s still playing good defense. I really like the way he’s handling it.”

Bochy went into scout mode when talking about Arroyo, saying he makes several evaluations when a player is slumping. He watches the way Arroyo takes the field, and he said the joy and swagger is still there. He watches the glove, and that hasn’t been an issue, no matter what the numbers at the plate are.

“It’s easy to play with zest and energy when you’re doing well,” Bochy said. “You watch when they have a tough day, an 0-for-4, and how he carries himself. Christian is doing a good job of that.”

Bochy noted that Arroyo isn’t trying to slug his way out of this. He went the other way with a runner on third last night, driving in a run. He has shown an ability to get runners in, which this team needs, but the numbers are what they are. Arroyo is batting .130 over his last 12 games with two extra-base hits, which have also happened to be huge ones. 

Two weeks ago, it seemed crazy to think Arroyo might be sent down. But Aaron Hill and Conor Gillaspie will return on the next homestand and the Giants don’t have that many spots to play with. There’s a lot at play here. There are service time implications in sending Arroyo down, and Nuñez could come into play if he can’t handle left with a sore leg. Perhaps the Giants move him back to third or 10-day DL him.

The Giants are talking about all this daily and there are questions to be asked. Isn’t the team better with Arroyo, even if he is fighting it at the plate? Are Hill and Gillaspie worthy of bumping a top prospect back down temporarily? Is Arroyo best served seeing tough pitches from big leaguers or going back down to continue beating up on Triple-A starters? On the last point, Bochy said he thinks seeing Major League pitching is invaluable. He wouldn’t, however, indicate a lean one way or the other on what the front office will do.

“I don’t want to make assumptions here on what we’ll do because we do have moves to make with Conor and Aaron Hill,” he said. “They’re not easy (decisions) but we have to figure out what we’re going to do.”

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)