SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner has made his feelings about the opener strategy clear.During a Q&A session at Saturday's FanFest, manager Bruce Bochy revealed that Bumgarner texted him during the Winter Meetings after learning that the Giants were considering using openers this season."If you're using an opener in my game,
SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner has made his feelings about the opener strategy clear.
During a Q&A session at Saturday's FanFest, manager Bruce Bochy revealed that Bumgarner texted him during the Winter Meetings after learning that the Giants were considering using openers this season.
"If you're using an opener in my game, I'm walking right out of the ballpark," Bumgarner told Bochy.
Popularized by the Rays and A's last year, the opener is a reliever who starts a game and pitches one to two innings before giving way to a more traditional starting pitcher or another relief pitcher.
• Impact of opener in MLB
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi first brought up the possibility of embracing the concept in December, noting that it would be one way to try to get the most out of a rotation that had quite a few question marks behind Bumgarner. The Giants have since bolstered their pitching depth by signing left-handers Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz, though Zaidi said the club will still consider deploying openers on occasion this year.
"My general response there is we've got to be open to different configurations of the pitching staff that we feel give us the best chance to win," Zaidi said Friday. "One of the attractions we have to both Holland and Pomeranz is their flexibility in pitching roles. They're guys that can start a game and pitch six innings, they're guys that can pitch the last two innings of the game, they're guys that can eat up middle innings.
"I do think there are times where [using an opener] presents a real strategic advantage when you're looking at teams that have left-handed-hitting heavy tops of the order and you're planning to start a right-hander. Do you throw a lefty out there to go through that top of the order one time and make things easier for your starter? I can just say that when the opposition is thinking about using an opener, it makes your life harder. Our goal as a team should be to make life as difficult as possible for our opposition."
Still, the chances of Bumgarner pitching behind an opener are slim. In December, Bochy nodded when asked if the Giants' ace would be exempt from such practices.
"I would say yeah," Bochy said in December. "Might pinch-hit him first."
Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.