SAN FRANCISCO - Madison Bumgarner and Mark Melancon both are eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on May 26. All of a sudden, there's a bit of a race to see which pitcher gets back on the active roster first.
Bumgarner saw a specialist in Arizona on Tuesday and was cleared to begin playing catch on flat ground this weekend. He will do that three to four times before moving on to bullpen sessions. Melancon already has been playing catch, and he'll throw a bullpen session this weekend for the first time since having an injection to try and clear up lingering discomfort in his pronator.
Bumgarner, who suffered a fractured metacarpal in his left pinky finger at the end of the spring, is expected back shortly after he is eligible. Manager Bruce Bochy said Melancon could be close to that timeframe, too.
"It's all about how he feels," he said of his injured closer. "It's day to day with him on if we have to back him off or not."
Melancon has not had any setbacks while playing catch over the past week. Bumgarner has had similarly smooth sailing. He needed about six weeks last year to go from flat-ground throwing to starting an MLB game, but Bochy said they won't rush this.
"We have it structured as far as the rehab and he'll stay with that," Bochy said. "He knows he's got to go through something like a spring training."