SCOTTSDALE — If you pitch a quick scoreless inning in the middle of a 16-14 shootout on Day 37 of spring training, you really should make the Opening Day roster. Jake Dunning won’t be back in the big leagues on April 4, but he could be at some point.
Dunning struck out two in the eighth inning, just as he did in his prior call-up to big league camp. The 27-year-old hit 95 on the gun earlier this week at Salt River Fields, and twice he has had manager Bruce Bochy raving about his stuff. Bochy said Dunning might get one more cameo.
“That’s why we brought him back over here,” Bochy said. “We liked what we saw.”
Dunning, a lanky right-hander, posted a 2.84 ERA in 29 appearances for the Giants in 2013. A pair of groin tears cost him time, but he said he’s fully healthy and has put on a bit of weight. He also has taken more of a let-it-fly approach out of the bullpen, leading to increased velocity. Bochy noted that Dunning could again be in the mix at some point. He hasn’t forgotten what the young pitcher did in his first stint.
“That was a real nice run,” Bochy said. “That’s the way he was throwing the ball (tonight).”
HIGHLIGHTS: If you took an at-bat, you had a good day. The teams combined for 33 hits and 30 runs in a loooooooong game. Bochy was not pleased with some of the defense he saw from his team and some of the pitches his relievers made. He noted that Santiago Casilla and Hunter Strickland “made quite a few mistakes.”
SPRING CONTROVERSY: The main story in this one was the Madison Bumgarner-Jason Heyward exchange. It’s covered in full here. Ultimately it was harmless, but it might come up again if these teams meet in a bigger spot.
“I could see why (Bumgarner) was confused,” Bochy said. “(Heyward) was saying something to Fowler on second, which is something I’ve never seen.”
LIGHTER SIDE: Clubhouse employees and members of the training staff went head-to-head today in a four-part competition. My personal highlights were Brandon Evans (home clubhouse) running the 40 in long pants while holding laundry loops, Carl Kochan (strength coach) entering from the bullpen for a home run derby while wearing his college jersey, and Javier Lopez serving as MC. Chad Chop, the BP pitcher/replay assistant, stole the show by homering on all three of his Home Run Derby swings and then dropping the mic (his bat).
Chop is a former minor leaguer and once had two hits off Matt Cain in a game, which comes up often. It was an impressive show today, with one of the homers hitting the roof of the Charro Lodge and another landing on a back field. Here’s a slideshow from the (hopefully yearly) event that broke up the monotony of March.