UPDATE (Wednesday at 1:30pm) -- Las Vegas betting website Bovada.lv is offering odds on whether or not Madison Bumgarner will compete in this year's Home Run Derby.
Bumgarner is getting 5/1 odds to compete and 1/10 odds not to compete.
SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner made it clear Tuesday that he wants to participate in the Home Run Derby at next month’s All-Star Game. He also gave a pretty unimpeachable reason why the Giants shouldn’t use injury concerns as a reason to keep him out of it.
“I mean, they had me ride a horse on the field, so if they trust me with something like that with 40-some-thousand people going crazy and I can’t do baseball activities, that’s a little bit different,” Bumgarner said, referring to a ceremony last April. “We’ll talk about it for sure. I’m not trying to say that this is a done deal or anything like that.”
The concept is certainly moving along quickly, though. Bumgarner has long been considered a fearsome hitter, but he added new levels to the reputation on the last road trip. Bumgarner homered in Atlanta and then hit a ball into the upper deck during batting practice at Busch Stadium on Sunday. Cardinals employees said they had only seen a handful of position players ever hit that deck, one level above “Big Mac Land.”
ESPN, which broadcasts the Derby, seems all-in on the concept of a fearsome pitcher taking part. Buster Olney discussed it in a column and on the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Two days later, Bumgarner didn't back down.
“I’ll do it for sure,” Bumgarner said. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it.”
He made it clear that he’s not politicking to enter the event, which has always been reserved for the game’s most powerful position players. ESPN approached him and asked if he would be interested.
“I said yes,” Bumgarner said. “I didn’t go up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get me in the Home Run Derby.'”
There’s just one hurdle remaining. Manager Bruce Bochy said he’s aware of the push to get Bumgarner in the Derby and he will soon talk to Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean to see what the organization will decide.
“Your initial feelings are to keep him out of it because I know how competitive he is and how hard he’ll swing, but at the same time I think it’ll create interest with fans getting to watch one of the best pitchers in the game swing the bat,” Bochy said.
Teams are generally concerned about players losing their level swings during the contest, but that won’t be a problem for Bumgarner. Every swing he takes — from batting practice to starts to the occasional pinch-hit appearances — is meant to hit the ball over the fence.
“I don’t worry about him losing his swing as much as him going out there and swinging as hard as he can and hurting his oblique or something,” Bochy said.
For the Giants, the concern is actually that Bumgarner will do too well, advancing into later rounds. That way he would end up taking dozens of full-strength swings with long breaks in-between. Bumgarner isn’t worried about getting hurt. He has proven to be as durable as any player in the sport, and he’s anxious to get a second shot at a home run contest. He took part in one during a high school All-Star event and finished one homer short of advancing to the final round.
“I’d like to think (I’d do) pretty good but you never know,” he said. “Hitting is not the easiest thing in the world to do, so there’s always a chance you go out there one day and you just ain’t going to have it.”
Bumgarner’s history says he would do well. He has 13 career homers, and when he hit one last week a Twitter account called “Ace of MLB Stats” revealed the stunning stat that Bumgarner had as many homers — 11 — as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout over each player’s previous 190 plate appearances. That’s not a fluke, either. Bumgarner regularly sees a collection of sliders and pitches in the dirt from opposing pitchers.
“I don’t think I could get pitched any tougher than I am right now,” he said. “They’re making it tough.”
The Derby would be all BP fastballs, and there should be a final decision soon. Bochy said he would huddle with the brain trust and Bumgarner and make a decision, since the All-Star Game is just over a month away. If Bumgarner’s greatest moment, Game 7, taught us anything, it’s that the ace usually comes out on the winning end of conversations about what he should do on the field.
Will Madison Bumgarner compete in the 2016 Home Run Derby?— Bovada Official (@BovadaLV) June 8, 2016
No: -1000 pic.twitter.com/8aO6Cw8mkf