SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner's optimism rose Thursday along with his ERA. That's part of the beauty of Spring Training, when results are secondary to preparation.Following his next-to-last exhibition start before he confronts the Milwaukee Brewers in the April 4 regular-season opener, Bumgarner sounded upbeat, as befits a
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner's optimism rose Thursday along with his ERA. That's part of the beauty of Spring Training, when results are secondary to preparation.
Following his next-to-last exhibition start before he confronts the Milwaukee Brewers in the April 4 regular-season opener, Bumgarner sounded upbeat, as befits a staff ace who has won 18 games in each of the last two years. Where others might have detected vulnerability in his 3 2/3-inning performance during San Francisco's 16-14 loss to the Chicago Cubs, he saw progress.
Bumgarner allowed five runs and eight hits, helping establish the pattern of this messy affair. However, beauty is in the eye of the man standing on the pitching rubber, and Bumgarner found enough reason for satisfaction. Asked whether he considered this game a step forward, Bumgarner replied, "Oh, yeah. I felt pretty solid today."
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Bumgarner, whose ERA inched upward to 11.12 from 10.57, derived confidence from building his arm strength. He threw approximately 80 pitches, which conceivably brought him closer to attaining the level of stamina he'll need for the regular season.
He didn't seem to mind that he threw most of his pitches against the Cubs with runners on base.
"Honestly, at this point, all it's about is getting your arm in game shape and ready to go. That's the only thing that matters," Bumgarner said. "I'm feeling game-ready. ... It's not ideal in the regular season to throw 80 pitches in four innings, but it's just going to be better for you as far as arm shape goes. You're going to have games like that during the year. It's good to get that going now, if you want to took at the positive side of things. It's a lot easier to throw 80 pitches in six or seven innings than it is in four. So that's a good little workout."
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Bumgarner endured lapses he usually avoids in the regular season. With two outs, when he typically toughens, he surrendered Anthony Rizzo's RBI single in the first inning. He breezed through a perfect second inning, striking out two, before yielding three runs in the third. Bumgarner began that inning by issuing one of his three walks. Two of the Cubs who drew free passes came around to score.
"I was glad to get some walks out of the way," he said.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy echoed Bumgarner's self-evaluation.
"I thought he was really, really sharp at times," Bochy said. "He made some mistakes in [the third] inning, but I thought it was a good workday for him."
Bumgarner's next step is increasing his pitch count to 90 next Tuesday in the Giants' Cactus League finale against Kansas City. Nothing should deter him from reaching that goal, since the health problems that forced him to miss a start approximately two weeks ago have subsided. His strained rib cage is no factor. The inflammation in his left foot, he said, is "still kind of around sometimes, but it's not anything like it was."
Bumgarner added he'll resume taking batting practice Friday. Given his ardor for hitting, that's as good a reason as any for him to feel excited.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.