Programming note: Giants-Rockies coverage starts Wednesday at 5 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Channel Locations)
Madison Bumgarner did two peculiar things Tuesday night, and no, chirping at the entire Rockies dugout wasn’t one of them.
Bumgarner swung at a 3-0 pitch. Later on, Bumgarner batted for himself in the seventh inning, even though there was no chance he’d pitch after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Peculiar? Sure. Unless you happen to have two healthy players on your bench. That’s the situation the Giants faced as Sergio Romo blew a save chance in their 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in an important series opener Tuesday at Coors Field.
There were three reasons that Bruce Bochy began a series against the threatening Colorado Rockies with so many empty chambers.
--Buster Posey has an irritated nerve in his lower back after taking an awkward swing on Sunday, then stiffening up on the flight to Denver.
--Angel Pagan hit in the cage but was deemed to need one more day to rest the sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.
--The Giants are carrying 13 pitchers.
The first two reasons are routine and understandable. You can’t play 162 games without a few tar pits and oil slicks, and when injuries happen to key personnel, you don’t reflexively put them on the disabled list unless something’s poking through the skin. The Giants already have Brandon Belt out for six weeks, at minimum. They don’t want to be without their leadoff hitter or their former league MVP for two weeks or more.
The third reason? Well, the Giants kind of got backed into a corner here. They like all the relievers in their bullpen, none of them have a minor league option, and now that they’re all healthy again, this is the current solution: keep ‘em all, and go short on the bench.
It is not ideal. And although it’s understandable that the Giants would act to protect their organizational inventory, especially when we haven’t even gotten to Memorial Day yet, they also have to think about preserving another resource.
In a fairly important series opener Tuesday, their bench consisted of Joaquin Arias (hitting .148) and Ehire Adrianza (.162).
No wonder Bochy preferred Bumgarner at the plate in the seventh inning. The Giants might be a first-place club, but their bench is not first-rate. And when you have a starter or two ailing, the bench looks especially thin.
You’re putting your manager at a disservice when you go into a series with two hitters on your bench, and the fact they sported .148 and .162 averages gave Bochy even less to work with.
That other resource they need to preserve? The health and energy of their starting position players. Other than Hunter Pence, who runs on banana peels and weapons-grade plutonium, the everyday players need rest. And if the bench doesn’t get any better, Bochy is going to be tempted to run his regulars into the ground.
So far, guys like Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse are holding up well.
But again, we haven’t hit Memorial Day yet.