PITTSBURGH -- Madison Bumgarner needed four rehab starts last season before a return to the big leagues. The Giants have already discussed cutting that way back this time, with him possibly needing just one or two.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner's flat-ground work has been so impressive that he won't need as much minor league time as a year ago. But there's something else at play here, something left unsaid.
The standard for the rotation right now is not very high. The Giants haven't had a starter complete six innings since last Saturday, and too many starts are ending after the fourth. Couldn't Bumgarner do that as he works to build arm strength? Yes, yes he could, and those innings would likely be crisper than the ones Bochy is getting now.
Bumgarner will throw a bullpen session Monday in San Francisco. He will face hitters when the Giants are in Houston the next week. He is eligible to return on May 26, and Bochy said he won't need much more time than that.
"It's going to be close," he said. "That's how well he's throwing the ball. If his pitch count is around 75 in that (rehab start) he could make a start here, similar to what we did with Shark. We'll fill in with the bullpen instead of taking another (rehab) start to get up to 100 pitches. We'll see where we're at and how he's feeling."
--- Alen Hanson isn't feeling great. His tight left hamstring is still sore, and he's day to day (like all of us, technically). Bochy wasn't sure if Hanson would be available off the bench today. Evan Longoria is the choice to move to short or second if the Giants are in a jam.
--- Derek Law walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning in a walking boot, which was interesting because he was optioned to the minors while the Giants were still in Philadelphia. Law tweaked his ankle while hitting the bag on a grounder against the Phillies. It's not considered serious, but it made sense to keep him around. He's from Pittsburgh, so he spent the weekend here and he'll fly back to San Francisco with the team before driving to Sacramento.