Although the Giants have a good relationship with left-hander Madison Bumgarner, their front office isn’t going to forget his dirt bike accident if the two sides negotiate a new contract in the future, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bumgarner is controllable via eminently affordable team options for both the 2018 and ’19 seasons, after which the three-time World Series champion should be in line to become one of the majors’ richest pitchers. In the meantime, it’s possible the Giants could look to recoup some money from Bumgarner’s current deal in the wake of the off-field shoulder injury that will keep him out for two-plus months; however, Shea notes that doing so would look terrible from a public relations standpoint and could damage the team’s relationship with Bumgarner. Unsurprisingly, general manager Bobby Evans doesn’t seem inclined to quarrel with Bumgarner over money, telling Shea that the 27-year-old ace’s contract is “the least of our concerns.” Rather, the Giants’ “focus is trying to take care of Madison and get him healthy and support him any way we can,” per Evans.
- Denard Span told CSNBayArea.com’s Alex Pavlovic and other reporters that he hopes to miss only a few days after hurting his shoulder crashing into the outfield wall last night. Span said he suffered a similar injury in 2012 that kept him on the DL for several weeks, though his current issue doesn’t quite seem as serious, with Span noting that “the good thing is I’ve got range of motion.” Between Span’s injury, Hunter Pence day-to-day with a knee strain and the team’s ongoing need in left field, the Giants are in need of some roster creativity to address the outfield. Manager Bruce Bochy raised the possibility that Brandon Belt could play left (as he is today) in order to get Buster Posey at first and Nick Hundley behind the plate, as Hundley is hitting well. Drew Stubbs could also be promoted from the minors as further outfield depth.
There hasn’t been any talk within the Giants organization about filing a grievance against Madison Bumgarner in the wake of the ace southpaw’s dirt bike accident earlier this week, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). It isn’t known whether Bumgarner had some sort of contractual clause (as many players do) prohibiting him from engaging in potentially dangerous activities like dirt biking, though if he did, the Giants would technically be within their rights to pursue recouping some of the salary owed to Bumgarner while he is on the disabled list. Then again, as Olney notes, such a tactic “would be incredibly shortsighted and stupid” for the Giants given Bumgarner’s importance to the franchise, not to mention the fact that Bumgarner is already an enormous bargain thanks to an early-career extension.
- Denard Span left last night’s game in the second inning after colliding with the wall while making a catch. The Giants outfielder suffered a mild right shoulder sprain and though Span told MLB.com’s Chris Haft and other reporters that x-rays were negative, manager Bruce Bochy said Span may be out of action for a few days. With Hunter Pence also hampered by a knee strain, the Giants may need to make some type of roster move to fill the gaps in their outfield.
- The Giants have outrighted catcher Tim Federowicz to Triple-A, tweets Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. The club designated Federowicz for assignment Tuesday, and he subsequently cleared waivers. San Francisco no longer had a need for Federowicz after Buster Posey returned from the seven-day concussion DL. Federowicz appeared in two games during Posey’s weeklong absence.
Madison Bumgarner’s injury could mark the end of an era for the Giants, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News writes. The short-term implications of the injury are clear — Bumgarner’s dirt bike crash will make it that much harder for the Giants to climb out of the 6-11 hole they’ve already dug. But Kawakami doesn’t suggest the injury even extinguishes the Giants’ playoff hopes. Rather, he thinks the rather silly cause of the injury upends Bumgarner’s nearly mythical status — Kawakami compares the old Bumgarner, the one who helped the Giants to three World Series wins and carried the team on his back in 2014, to Paul Bunyan. It also suggests that the Giants as a team no longer warrant the presumption that they’ll win just because they’ve done so in the past. Here’s more from the West divisions.
8:20pm: There’s internal concern that a two-month estimated absence may be on the low side, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets.
6:03pm: From the club’s perspective, there’s no real timetable at present, manager Bruce Bochy tells reporters including Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).
4:00pm: The initial expectation is that Bumgarner will be sidelined for six to eight weeks, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It’s not clear, though, whether that figure includes the time that the lefty will presumably require to ramp up and move through a rehab assignment.
3:39pm: Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is headed to the 10-day DL after injuring himself in a dirt bike accident, the team announced. He is said to have suffered bruised ribs along with “a grade one or two left shoulder AC sprain.”
Fortunately, it seems there’s no reason to worry for Bumgarner’s long-term well-being. He has already been released from the hospital. But from an on-field perspective, the news certainly looks to be concerning.
To be sure, there’s little in the way of detail as to just how the injury will impact Bumgarner. For now, it seems he’ll rest before being reevaluated next week.
The injury is not a common one for a pitcher, but it does happen to quarterbacks with regularity. Treatment and timing will obviously depend upon the final assessment of the severity, though it seems that surgery isn’t likely to be needed for a grade one or two sprain.
Obviously, the fact that the injury occurred to Bumgarner’s throwing arm will be a significant factor. That’ll not only increase the risks of rushing back, but will presumably call for a lengthier timeline — including, perhaps, a rehab stint.
Bumgarner had been himself on the hill in the early going, continuing his outstanding track record of production. (To date, Bumgarner owns a 2.99 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 over 1,242 2/3 career innings.) Now, he’s headed to the DL for the first time in his career.
What makes the southpaw special, though, isn’t just his effectiveness. It’s the fact that he has had a flawless record of durability. Bumgarner has made at least 31 starts and thrown at least 200 innings in each of his first six full seasons in the majors. Now, it seems those streaks are at risk.
The Giants have options on hand to fill in, with Ty Blach seemingly likely to step into the rotation and Chris Stratton coming up to provide another arm. But there’s no replacing Bumgarner, who is already a legendary figure in the organization due to his incredible postseason efforts.
Giants outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. has undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, GM Bobby Evans tells reporters including Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News (via Twitter). He is expected to miss at least eight weeks of action.
Upton, 32, came to San Francisco on a minors deal after he failed to crack the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster. He figured to be one of several players who could ultimately have played a role in the team’s still-unsettled mix in left field.
Instead, Upton is headed for a lengthy rehab. The veteran had enjoyed something of a renaissance after moving to San Diego from the Braves, where he failed to deliver on a big free-agent contract. But he struggled late last year with Toronto after a mid-season trade, slashing just .196/.261/.318 in 165 plate appearances down the stretch.
FanRag’s Jon Heyman tackles a number of slow-starting teams in the intro to his weekly notes columns, getting the opinions of rival scouts and executives on the slow starts from the Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays and Rangers. Heyman spoke to Giants GM Bobby Evans on his club’s issues in left field, with Evans conceding, “We don’t have a true left fielder. We’re going to have to mix and match.” Heyman notes that veteran infielder Aaron Hill is expected to get some looks in left field. San Francisco elected to move on from Angel Pagan this offseason and entered the year with a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero in left field, but Parker will now miss significant time following a broken clavicle. And it appears to be too late to turn back to Pagan, who told El Vocero yesterday that he’s planning to sit out the 2017 season to spend time with his wife and children.
Though by all accounts he has done nothing but go about his business as a professional, outfielder Jay Bruce has had an eventful tenure with the Mets since arriving last summer via trade. While the club picked up his option last fall, it reportedly dangled him in trade talks once Yoenis Cespedes returned in free agency.
Among the teams that inquired about Bruce, it was the rebuilding Phillies who came closest to acquiring him over the recent offseason, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. It’s not known what got in the way of a deal, though perhaps New York wanted some kind of prospect return or Philadelphia wasn’t willing to take on his entire $13MM salary.
The pursuit of Bruce, who’ll be a free agent at year’s end, certainly fits within the Phillies’ recent operating philosophy of adding short-term veteran pieces to boost the club in the near term (and provide possible trade chips) without clogging up future balance sheets. The Phils ended up adding two such outfielders, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. Presumably, the club wouldn’t have signed the latter, who was not added until mid-January, had it managed to acquire Bruce.
Other organizations that at least expressed interest, Carig notes, were the Giants and Orioles. But clearly neither of those clubs was willing to push the envelope to add Bruce, who struggled to a .219/.294/.391 slash line over his 187 plate appearances with the Mets in 2016. In the end, the Mets held onto the slugger.
As it turns out, the lack of sufficient interest may have worked to the Mets’ advantage. Though the presence of Bruce on the roster along with Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto has continued to create something of a logjam, the 30-year-old Bruce is more than making up for that with a highly productive start to the year. Through 62 plate appearances, he’s hitting a robust .309/.387/.673 with six long balls.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out over the course of the season. Bruce is a notoriously streaky hitter, though the Mets will be glad to ride things out for the time being. Conforto is clamoring for more playing time with a great start in limited action. And Granderson is scuffling quite a bit early, though of the three he’s the choice to line up in center field (where he could begin to cede time to Juan Lagares). Tough choices could be required if other roster needs arise, or if the team determines that Conforto needs to play more regularly, though it remains plausible to imagine all three players sticking with the Mets for the full season. And if Bruce is able to maintain anything like his current production, it’ll be interesting to see whether the organization considers a qualifying offer after the season.
MLBTR extends its best wishes to Giants skipper Bruce Bochy and Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire, each of whom underwent surgery today, according to a pair of club releases. Bochy had a “minor ablation procedure this morning to alleviate some discomfort he was experiencing due to an atrial flutter,” the Giants said in a statement. Bochy is expected to rejoin the team on Friday, and in the interim, bench coach Ron Wotus will assume managerial duties. Gardenhire’s surgery was part of his ongoing treatment for prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with during Spring Training. Both veterans are among the most respected and well-liked managers/coaches in the game, and we join those around the industry in wishing Bochy and Gardy full recoveries.