SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner put on a positive front after his rough Cactus League debut earlier in the week, but he admitted the next day that the outing bothered him. Saturday’s two-inning stint was much better, Bumgarner said.
“I felt really, really good,” he said. “I felt great today. It was a lot better than the last time out … I couldn’t be happier with it.”
Bumgarner’s line against the Padres -- two innings, four hits, two earned runs -- still wasn’t what he’s used to but he said his delivery was locked into place, his command was much improved and he felt great physically.
“It’s not like midseason form or nothing,” he said. “It was a whole lot closer than it was, though. I felt like we were really close. I’m OK with being ahead of schedule or right on schedule, but I don’t want to be behind schedule.”
Bumgarner feels he’s right on track for his Opening Day start on April 6, and he’s ready for another heavy workload. Looking back on his remarkable 2014 season, Bumgarner said he felt great physically the entire year and his body took another step forward in October. The rough patch in July was a matter of mechanical issues and bad luck, Bumgarner said.
“I’ve never really had to go through ‘dead arm’ or whatever,” he said. “I don’t know what that is.”
With that, Bumgarner reached back and knocked on a wood wall in his locker. Just in case.
Saturday’s other starter knows all too well that Bumgarner was feeling it in October. James Shields last pitched in Game 5 of the World Series, when Bumgarner threw a four-hit shutout to put the Giants a win away from another title. Shields reportedly turned down a four-year, $80 million offer from the Giants in December. The front office couldn’t wait around for Shields to make up his mind, and weeks after the Giants filled out their roster, Shields agreed to a four-year, $75 million deal with the Padres.
“We had some talks, but when it came down to it I signed with the Padres and I’m happy with where I’m at right now,” Shields said of the Giants. “As a free agent, it’s a long process, and it took me a little longer than I thought it was going to but it ended up working really well. I think we’ve got a good team down here in San Diego and I think we’ve got a chance to do some special things.
“The way the process went down this winter is the way it was. You never know in this game. I guess this is a game of adjustments, so we had to be patient. I had to do what’s right for me and my family first and foremost. I wanted to go to a team that I thought was going to win.”
Shields said the Giants — champions three times in the past five years — are “definitely the team to go after, for sure.”
“I like the challenge,” he said. “Growing up through the American League East, when the Yankees were doing their thing and Boston as well, I love that challenge and I’m up for it. I’m excited to see what we’re all about this year.”