Rotation pieces in place for champion Giants
Pitchers, catchers report to camp as quest for repeat title begins
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy made himself clear without being specific: Madison Bumgarner will start the April 6 season opener at Arizona. Additionally, the rest of the pitching rotation, in alphabetical order, will consist of Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy.
Bochy refrained from formally announcing that Bumgarner, San Francisco's World Series hero, will pitch his second opener in a row. Nor did Bochy officially name the foursome who will follow Bumgarner.
But the indirect remarks Bochy issued on Wednesday as Giants pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training directly conveyed his pitching plans.
Asked if he would consider easing Bumgarner's Spring Training workload in the wake of the left-hander's 270-inning effort last season, Bochy said, "Not really. He's got to get ready for Opening Day."
Cain, Hudson, Lincecum and Peavy were assigned their starting roles through process of elimination. Their anticipated return to the rotation became all but official when Bochy referred to Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit, two other starting candidates, as qualified spot starters: "If somebody's [arm] is a little cranky or whatever, you've got Vogelsong and Petit sitting there. They can help out. ... It's nice to have two guys who can give you some length."
Bochy did admit, "I think we're pretty well set with this rotation. ...We haven't put the order down exactly, but I think we have a pretty good idea what it's going to be."
None of this was particularly surprising.
Bumgarner maintained the No. 1 role that he cemented for himself last year, when he coupled an All-Star regular-season performance (18-10, 2.98) with record-setting postseason feats.
Cain's apparently smooth recovery from right elbow and ankle surgery assured him of remaining in the rotation he has occupied since August 2005. Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean repeated during the offseason that Lincecum belonged in the rotation, not the bullpen, and the two-year contract Peavy received left no doubts about his status.
Bochy acknowledged that Hudson is "a little behind" after undergoing right ankle surgery last month. "We think he'll be fine and will catch up," Bochy added. Significantly, the Giants intensified efforts to sign Vogelsong, a free agent, after Hudson underwent his procedure.
Renowned for possessing one of baseball's best rotations since 2009, the first year Cain and Lincecum made the National League All-Star team together, Giants starters finished with close to league-average statistics last year. They posted a 56-60 record, compared with the NL average of 56-58. Their 3.74 ERA matched the NL starters' collective figure, and the .252 batting average opponents compiled against San Francisco's starters differed only slightly from the .254 average that hitters mustered off the league.