SAN FRANCISCO - Madison Bumgarner was not too concerned about his nine-run rehab start last week, pointing out that he just left too many pitches over the plate as he worked to get his pitch count up. Told that the A-ball team was full of some promising Dodgers hitting prospects, Bumgarner smiled.
"Apparently," he said.
He expects it to go a bit smoother tonight when he returns to San Jose to get that count up to around 90 pitches. For a third straight rehab start, however, Bumgarner won't hit. The San Jose Giants use a DH, although manager Nestor Rojas was a bit tempted to give it up last week.
This leads to an interesting question: Bumgarner believes he'll be ready to pitch, but will he be ready to hit? It's a question you would only really ask of one pitcher in Major League Baseball.
"Hit, or hit well?" Bumgarner asked back. "I'll be okay. Hitting actually felt better early on than pitching did."
Bumgarner suffered a Grade 2 left shoulder sprain during a dirt bike accident in April, which means he had partial tears in his shoulder. The Giants have spent their energy on getting him ready to pitch. Trainer Dave Groeschner said there was never any concern about what swinging a bat - and Bumgarner does so powerfully - could do to his front shoulder going forward.
"He's been taking batting practice (for weeks) with no issues," Groeschner said. "We held him back from hitting early on because throwing is more important, but there have been no issues. He hasn't hit in a game yet but he ain't holding back in BP."
Bumgarner took swings while he rehabbed in Arizona and he returned to on-field BP on June 26. He looked like his usual self from the start. Despite missing most of the first half, Bumgarner is still tied with Adam Wainwright for the lead in pitcher homers (two). He has some work to do if he wants to give Jacob deGrom (10 hits, one homer) a run for the Silver Slugger, but the Giants believe he'll be healthy enough to try and be his familiar presence, starting Saturday in San Diego.
"He'll be ready," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's just not going to see a lot of live pitching. As far as any risk of injury, we'll be comfortable with the number of swings he's gotten here."