AT&T Park — Despite often being seen as a gruff, no-nonsense competitor, San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner appeared to have fun Thursday.
As teammates bunted down the third base line during pregame batting practice, Bumgarner stood on the infield grass with a bat and took aggressive golf swings at the balls trickling toward him, laughing at the ones he managed to send on target back toward the cage.
Four days after an outing in which he walked a career-high six Oakland A’s batters and couldn’t finish the fifth inning, and a day before his Friday start against the Milwaukee Brewers, it was surprising to see him in such a jovial mood. Then again, he’s a four-time All Star with little reason to feel pressured by a singular bad start, even amid a shaky stretch for the Giants.
“That’s what you have to do in this game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You have to be resilient, and you’ve got to put the tough games behind you and get back on the horse. No one’s better [at that] than him. I don’t know what’s gonna happen tonight, but … his forte has been bouncing back well.”
Bumgarner knows plenty about resiliency. He’s been shelled in playoff games only to come back and dominate World Series games. He’s spent two frustrating stints on the disabled list the past two seasons. This is not a guy who seems prone to spells of mental weakness.
The Giants hope he can correct his control issues soon. He’s walking almost four batters per nine innings this year after never issuing more than 2.7 in his career. He’ll face a potent lineup in the Brewers on Friday night.
After visiting a doctor on Thursday, closer Hunter Strickland was cleared to begin light throwing as he recovers from a broken hand. There’s not yet a date set for when he can throw off a mound.
Second baseman Joe Panik (left groin strain) went 1-for-3 with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and is expected to play seven innings Friday as he continues his rehab stint.