Bumgarner still out of whack in loss to Padres

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Bumgarner still out of whack in loss to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO Madison Bumgarner was not auditioning for a spotin the Giants postseason rotation Saturday night. Hes one of their horses, asmanager Bruce Bochy reiterated after the game.

The only question is where to slot Bumgarner after MattCain.

And no, Bumgarner did not look like a solid No. 2 starterwhile giving up a pair of home runs in just four innings of a 7-3 loss to theSan Diego Padres at Petco Park.

But in a sense, he firmed up that place in the rotation. Ifthe Giants enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed, which is looking close tocertain at this point, they would host the first two games at AT&T Park.

And Bumgarners homeroad splits provide a compelling reasonto make sure the big left-hander takes the mound at AT&T Park and nowhereelse.

Bumgarner is 10-3 with a 2.38 ERA at home. With Saturdaysloss, he fell to 7-7 with a 4.40 ERA on the road. And of his 23 home runsallowed, the most by a Giants pitcher since Barry Zito in 2007, all but five ofthose longballs have come on the road.

Oh, we look at all the variables, said Giants managerBruce Bochy, asked about Bumgarners splits. That plays a little part.

The rotation plays a huge part in any postseason drive, andthe Giants pitching staff will not enter the playoffs on the same roll as twoyears ago, when the club posted a 1.78 ERA in September, 2010.

Bumgarner pitched like he was cramming for a midterm,knowing this would be his last chance to iron out issues before the postseason.

I cant go out there and pitch against a big league ballclub and try to work on mechanics, he said. That never works. That might bethe problem. Im thinking about it instead of going out there and throwing it.

Bumgarner is too big a piece to be hidden at home for the entirepostseason. Hell have to execute his pitches better, regardless of where orwhen hes asked to take the ball. The same is true for the rest of therotation.

Right now, hes having trouble repeating pitches and gettingthe ball inside to right-handed hitters. What about his confidence?

Its good, he said. Im not worried about anything. Ivegot plenty of time to work on it. Ive just gotta be able to make pitches whenit counts.

He could work on it with an inning in Wednesdays seasonfinale at Dodger Stadium. Bochy did not discount that possibility, especiallysince Bumgarner would have the longest layoff of all the starters as they enterthe postseason.

That 20-win season didnt materialize, as Bumgarner went 7-7after the break. But he exceeded 208 innings for the first time, finished with191 strikeouts -- exactly as many as a year before -- and shaved down his hitsallowed and WHIP, even if those 23 home runs undid most of those gains.

Still, Bochy looks at Bumgarners drivers license and willtake that kind of season from a 23-year-old.

Its been a real nice season for him, Bochy said. Likeeverybody, hes had his little rut there. Today hes fighting himself. Butoverall, an outstanding season. Hes one of our horses and hes done a reallynice job.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.