Bumgarner to be Giants' No.2 starter?


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.

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants always put together a long list of potential minor league free agents as the offseason approaches and they tend to go hard after two or three players from that group. One of the guys who got the hard sell over the winter was speedy outfielder Wynton Bernard, and the Giants were attractive for reasons beyond the departures of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco.

“I thought it was a good opportunity, and it also was a good fit for me because I’m from California,” Bernard said. 

Bernard is technically from Padres territory, but that gives him a connection to one of the men he’s hoping to impress. When Bernard was playing for Rancho Bernardo High, he often went up against a Poway High team that included a young Brett Bochy. Bruce never saw Bernard play because his job kept him away from most of Brett’s games, but he should see plenty of the 26-year-old this spring as the Giants look for a needed speed dimension. 

A big part of the staff overhaul was about making sure the Giants fare better on the bases. Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes are out and Phil Nevin and Jose Alguacil are in. The Giants stole 79 bases last season, ranking eighth in the National League, and it’s not like they made up for the lack of small-ball by hitting the ball out of the park. Advanced metrics — tracked externally and also by the Giants — showed an inability to make an impact on the bases. According to BsR, an all-encompassing metric tracked by FanGraphs, the Giants were below average, ranking 17th in the majors. 

“We just want to be smarter baserunners,” Bochy said. “You always want to be aggressive. Everyone has the same philosophy — run hard — but it’s the old adage ‘strong to compete, smart to win.’”

A full season of Eduardo Nuñez will help, as would 162 games of Hunter Pence — who tends to make things happen on his own — and Joe Panik, one of the team’s smartest runners. Jimmy Rollins could provide speed off the bench, and Bernard hopes to make himself a viable option in the outfield. He stole 23 bags in 28 attempts last season for the Tigers’ Double-A and Triple-A teams and he stole 88 total bases the two seasons before 2016. 

The Giants know the kind of potential Bernard has, so early in the offseason he got a call telling him to hook up with fellow San Diego resident Vince Coleman, a legendary baserunner who would be joining the staff. The two worked out often in advance of spring training. 

“The Giants said he was in the area and I called him 20 minutes later,” Bernard said. “I feel like I can add a different dynamic with my speed.”

Bernard can play all three outfield spots and he sports a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. He’s likely ticketed for Triple-A for now, but a player with the same profile showed up in camp in 2012, and it wasn’t long before Gregor Blanco had locked up a roster spot. 

Whether Bernard is part of the mix, or it’s a Gorkys Hernandez or Nuñez or Kelby Tomlinson, Bochy knows he needs a little more athleticism and baserunning savvy in a division where the games are often won by one run. 

“We probably made more mistakes than we should have last year,” he said. “The numbers show it.”

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace remains in the Dominican Republic, where he is tending to his father. The Giants don’t have a timetable for Cueto’s arrival, but he didn’t miss anything Saturday. The workout was banged because of rain. 

Cueto is at a hotel a few minutes from the club’s Santo Domingo facility and he has been working out there. The hope is that Cueto’s father soon gets well enough to travel to Arizona, where Cueto can continue to take care of him. 

NEW FACE: Slade Heathcott, a former Yankee, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Friday. He will be in minor league camp this spring, not big league camp. The Giants liked his athleticism. 

QUOTABLE: “You can always look back, study it, learn from it … the second half, I think for everybody, you learn from it. Did we drop our guard? Hopefully it wasn’t complacency, which lets you think you have a bigger margin for error. Hopefully you learn from it.” — Bochy, when asked about the lesson learned last season. 

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

The Giants reportedly added to their outfield competition by signing former Yankees top prospect and 2009 first-round draft pick, outfielder Slade Heathcott. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was first to report the news

Heathcott, 26, has only appeared in 17 MLB games, all in the 2015 season for the Yankees. In his short promotion, the lefty batted .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs and two doubles. 

Through multiple stints in the minors, Heathcott has slashed .266/.343/.390 with 26 home runs for his career. 

San Francisco reportedly signed Heathcott to a minor league deal with a big league invite for spring training.