Old-school Bumgarner likes pitch timer, new rules

March 5th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- was pleased to get his first Cactus League start of the spring out of the way Sunday as he got in three innings against the Guardians in a 6-4 D-backs win at Goodyear Ballpark.

“First one of the year, even for me, it still moves faster than others,” Bumgarner said. “Kind of reevaluate after this one, and the next one will hopefully be a little better, and we can work on what shows up.”

This one definitely moved faster, as it was Bumgarner’s first experience with Major League Baseball’s new pitch timer, an adaptation that the notoriously old-school Bumgarner is just fine with.

“Out of all the rules changes [over my career], I probably like this one the most,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner allowed two runs on two hits while also hitting a pair of batters.

“Like the first one,” Bumgarner said when asked how he felt. “There’s a lot of new stuff, aside from it just being the first one. I was pretty happy with it. Happy to get the three ups, that was the main goal. Felt good with the pace. Using the PitchCom and all that stuff. Not bad for the first time.”

Bumgarner called his own pitches for part of the game, using a PitchCom device attached to his belt. It’s something he’s been wanting to experiment with and finally got the chance to do in a game.

“I like it,” Bumgarner said. “I’m going to work on where I put it. I put it on my belt. Might try the glove next time. It might be a little easier. I wish we could have a microphone and we could just talk to each other. That would be perfect, I think. But we’re going in the right direction.”

Bumgarner would just as soon forget about the 2022 season, when following a strong start, he struggled and tried a variety of changes to get back on track.

This winter, he said he dropped “a few” pounds, but that his weight has always fluctuated between 240 and 260 pounds. This year he said he’s closer to 240.

Since signing a five-year deal with the D-backs prior to 2020, Bumgarner is 15-29 with a 4.98 ERA in 65 starts, but those struggles don’t factor into how he approaches Spring Training.

“Treating it like a normal spring,” Bumgarner said. “Just trying to get ready. I’ve done it a while. I do know what it takes. You guys know that the last couple years -- pretty much my entire time here -- hasn’t been what I want it to be. But I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on this year and the years to come.”