SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When they signed Madison Bumgarner this past offseason, the D-backs talked about the impact his presence could have on their younger pitchers.
That appears to be playing out this spring.
“He brings more of an edge, and this guy has won and he wants to win,” closer Archie Bradley said. “And that’s kind of the message I’m about, so for me it’s another guy in here who wants to win. He doesn’t talk about other stuff -- it’s about winning and winning a World Series. Guys want to sit up a little straighter, they want to talk properly, they want to figure out what he does and how he works, stuff like that.”
Bumgarner was put in a work group this spring with some of the younger pitchers. It was similar to what happened years ago with the team, when it put the fiery veteran hurler Todd Stottlemyre in the same group as its younger pitchers.
“His presence is very good for all teams, but specifically for younger teams,” veteran right-hander Mike Leake said. “Just because he presents more of a western cowboy attitude about himself, I think that’s good for the younger players to be around, so they can know how to mature a little bit quicker. He’s got ‘You can’t [mess] with me' attitude. That’s good for a team.”
Bumgarner made his third start of the spring Monday against the Royals, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing three hits and a walk. He struck out four.
After watching him last season while with the Giants, before also coming over to the D-backs as a free agent, catcher Stephen Vogt explained that it’s not so much what Bumgarner says, though he will speak up when needed, but more about the way he carries himself.
“He’s a lead-by-example guy,” Vogt said. “Anybody who has the resume that he has, you’re going to watch and you’re going to listen to. He’s a quiet guy and he keeps to himself, but he’s also present and here for all his teammates. It’s more of a, 'Watch how I go about my business and the way I’m ready to pitch.'”
Some pitchers have taken advantage of the opportunity to talk pitching with Bumgarner, including right-hander Merrill Kelly.
Kelly spent four years pitching in Korea before joining the D-backs last year and making 32 starts.
“Baseball-wise I’ve talked to him about his cutter -- what he thinks on it, how he throws it, what he’s trying to do with it, depending on the count, or the hitter, that type of thing,” Kelly said. “Trying to pick his brain a little bit.”
It isn’t just the pitchers who benefit from having Bumgarner around, either.
Carson Kelly, who caught Bumgarner Monday and figures to get the bulk of playing time behind the plate for the D-backs this year, has taken some lessons from Bumgarner already.
“Every pitch has full intent and that’s something that a winner possesses,” he said. “Every time I catch him, or talk to him, there’s always something I’m learning. That’s something that’s going to help me now, but also into the future.”