Giants tab ZitoBumgarner to begin; Vogelsong in Game 7

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Giants tab ZitoBumgarner to begin; Vogelsong in Game 7

SAN FRANCISCO It was a phone call that Giants managerBruce Bochy couldnt have been prouder to make: He was going to tell Barry Zitothat the honor would be his to start Game 1 of the World Series.

There was just one problem.

Zito left his cell phone at the ballpark.

Thats why I was holding off announcing it, Bochy said onTuesday. But I think we all knew that Barry was starting, and I think he had agood idea. He was ecstatic. He was proud, honored that we have the trust in himto start Game 1.

Bochy didnt leave any mystery with the rest of hisrotation, either. Madison Bumgarner will start Game 2 on Thursday at AT&TPark, with Ryan Vogelsong going in Game 3 at Detroits Comerica Park and MattCain taking the ball in Game 4.
RELATED: Giants announce World Series rotation

Tim Lincecum will work out of the bullpen, where he madesuch a huge impact in the NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Said Lincecum: Weve been doing it this way so far, so whychange it? Im just excited to see another packed house. Im sure our fans aretasting it already.

Bochy could have selected Lincecum to start Game 2. But hesaid Bumgarner, who has gotten tagged ever since late August and got bouncedfrom the NLCS rotation, made progress in two side sessions. And Lincecum wouldbe much more versatile and valuable in a relief role than Bumgarner, who has noexperience pitching out of the bullpen.

Madison has had a break, which we wanted to give him,Bochy said. Its allowed him to get some bullpens in, work on some things. Asfar as Timmy, we just think hes better served for this club at this pointhelping us out of the bullpen. He gives us another weapon there. Hesresilient. I can use him back-to-back days. I can use him three or fourinnings, if necessary. If something happens, I can start him. So we thinkthats the best way to go right now.

Bochy had no qualms with going lefty-lefty, righty-righty.It comes down to executing pitches, no matter what side it comes from. Zito andBumgarner have differing styles, too.

Here was the most important factor in the decision to startBumgarner in Gmae 2 against Tigers right-hander Doug Fister, though: Bochy andpitching coach Dave Righetti had to be convinced that the 23-year-old foundsomething authentic in his mechanics that would keep him from throwinghittable, flat pitches over the plate.

Bumgarner looked at video with Righetti and realized that hewas over-rotating.

And that was causing a lot of other problems, Bumgarnersaid. Ive always been a guy who closes off some, but it was too much.Throwing that way causes a lot more stress and causes me to tire out a littlefaster.

About his session on Saturday, Bumgarner said, I think wevegot things straightened out. I do feel better. The stuff feels better. Thebreaking ball feels sharper. But the only way to be sure is to get into gamespeed.

If game speed is too much, the Timmy Tourniquet will bethere for Bochy assuming Lincecum isnt needed for multiple innings behindZito in Wednesday nights opener against Justin Verlander.

There was one more interesting wrinkle in Bochys rotation:He could have flip-flopped his Nos. 3-4 starters, giving Cain the ball in Game3 to line him up for a potential Game 7. Cain already owns victories in theGiants two winner-take-all games this postseason, after all.

But it wasnt lost on Giants coaches that Cains fastballrode up in the zone and he relied heavily on his defense while throwing 5 23shutout innings against the Cardinals in Game 7 on Monday. Vogelsongs stuff,by comparison, has been filthy in all three of his postseason starts.

So Cain will only make one start in this series. But he'll also get an extra day of rest before taking the ball in Game 4 againstright-hander Max Scherzer. And Vogelsong will drawright-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has mystified the Giants over his career especially at AT&T Park, where he is 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in three careerstarts.

If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem withthat, Bochy said. I know Matt has worked hard, hes got a lot of innings. Ididnt think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey isthrowing.

But Game 7 is an eon away. Its all about Zito and Verlanderin Game 1 and yes, Bochy finally got word to his veteran left-hander that hedbe pitching.

I couldnt be happier for him, Bochy said. It says a lotabout his mental toughness, his makeup. For him to keep grinding and trying toget better, I was really proud to tell him, Im glad to hand you the ball onthe first game, with all hes been through and the way hes handled it. Itsbeen off the charts.

Two years ago, Bochy left Zito off all three playoffrosters. This year, he told another Cy Young Award winner, Lincecum, that hewouldnt be in the rotation.

Oh, without question, its one of the most difficult thingsyou have to do as a manager, said Bochy, particularly when youre talking to astar player, a guy whos won a Cy Young Award and wants to be out there and whosbeen there all year for you.

I think the only way you handle it is to be straightforwardwith him and tell him what youre thinking, whether its a veteran or a youngplayer. It still bothers you a little bit because you know how much heshurting and maybe even embarrassed.

You do think about his feelings. Its something that has tobe done, and you move on. But again, how theyve dealt with it was one of themore impressive things Ive seen from a veteran player.

Said Zito: Hes always handled me very professional, alwayscommunicated, and sometimes the truth was not what I wanted to hear. But it wasthe truth, and other times hes said things that felt good to me. Hes alwaysbeen a great guy personally and a great manager from a players perspective.

It was Zitos heroic Game 5 start at Busch Stadium that keptthe Giants alive and brought the NLCS back to San Francisco. After thatinspiring outing, his teammates have every confidence hell bring the samestuff and poise to the mound against a power-packed Tigers lineup.

Its just complete retribution, Lincecum said. Im reallyclose to him and I know hes helped me through what Ive gone through. Hes soselfless. Hes always going about his work, trying to be better no matter thesituation. This has been a big week for him and its been fun to watch. I lookup to him like hes a big brother. It was pretty emotional for me to watch himpitch in St. Louis. Im just really, really proud of him.

Zito played on five playoff teams in Oakland but this is hisfirst time on a World Series roster.

I feel like Ive grown up in this game, you know? Zitosaid. When I came up in Oakland, I felt like I was a boy in this game. Youhave talent and you just keep going to the next level and all of the suddenpeople are looking at you and theres fans chanting your name and stuff, andyou dont know why. And then, to mature in this game is a big deal.

That process is a huge part of becoming a free agent, goingto a new team, signing a big deal and dealing with everything that comes withthat.

So I feel like an adult in the game now.

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.