Bumgarner not worried about innings buildup from 2014
Giants ace has no plans to alter approach in camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was all the same to Madison Bumgarner. That's why he is who he is.
Bumgarner threw off a mound wearing a Giants uniform Thursday for the first time since last Oct. 29, when he completed his wondrous postseason performance with five shutout innings on two days' rest in Game 7 of the World Series. But this was just a bullpen session in virtual solitude at Scottsdale Stadium, not a turbocharged crowd at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. His task was to prepare himself for the regular season, not settle a championship.
Yet Bumgarner insisted that he pitched with the same focus that he brings to much more monumental events, though not with the same velocity. Remember the saying, "You play the way you practice"? Bumgarner exemplifies this.
"I try to keep it the same every time," Bumgarner said after the Giants finished their initial Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers. "No matter what game it is, practice, who's hitting, whatever -- I try to be the same guy."
Cynics began predicting the worst for Bumgarner almost as soon as October ended. His record postseason accumulation of 52 2/3 innings hiked his overall workload to 270 innings, considered by many to be a dangerously high number. Surely, it was widely believed, the Giants would handle Bumgarner this spring -- and perhaps all year -- as if he belonged in an egg carton.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy understands the concern, but doesn't necessarily share it. Referring to Bumgarner's anticipated Opening Night start at Arizona on April 6, Bochy not-so-jokingly said, "He's going the second game, too."
Bochy obviously liked what he saw from the 25-year-old left-hander. "He's ready to go," Bochy said. "There's been a lot of talk about Bum. He's in great shape."
That should come as no surprise. Bumgarner rarely left his Lenoir, N.C., farm during the offseason. When you're on a farm, you work.
"It's just us living life the way we always have," Bumgarner said. "I don't try to make too big a deal out of stuff. I try not to get stressed out with anything. I try to keep it low-stress. We're here, we're living this lifestyle. [At] home, we're living that lifestyle."
Bumgarner barely dipped his toe in his newfound fame. He appeared on "The Tonight Show" shortly after the World Series and flew to New York in December to accept Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award. That honor remains precious to Bumgarner, whose ardor for personal accolades typically matches his regard for Yasiel Puig.
"That was a very humbling thing," Bumgarner said of the award. "It was hard to believe and still is."
Bumgarner maintained his habit of starting his throwing program on Jan. 1 by tossing to his brother-in-law, Tanner Saunders. He blissfully ignored the skeptics who continue to wait for his arm to become a wet noodle.
Regarding the cries of doom and gloom, Bumgarner said, "I couldn't pay any less attention to it than I do now. After 2010, it was the same deal."
That happened to be Bumgarner's rookie year, when he threw 193 2/3 regular-season innings, including 82 2/3 at Triple-A before being recalled to the Giants in June. He added 20 2/3 postseason innings, hiking his total to 214 1/3 -- a dangerous 73-inning increase from 2009.
Bumgarner proceeded to amass 204 2/3 innings in 2011, finishing 13-13 with a 3.21 ERA and 191 strikeouts.
Bumgarner 1, Naysayers 0.
Given the strength packed inside Bumgarner's 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame, his farmer's toughness and the durability he already has displayed, maybe he really is a throwback to the era of four-man starting rotations and staff aces who routinely logged 300 innings or more.
"That's why you do all the work," Bumgarner said. "That's what the goal is, is to have that kind of workload. We were just able to fulfill it."