SCOTTSDALE — Madison Bumgarner tends to disappear in the offseason, but he wasn’t totally off the radar as the Giants set about remaking their rotation. Manager Bruce Bochy said he talked to Bumgarner a couple of times about what the team was looking for, and while Bumgarner hasn’t taken the step of joining recruiting meetings, he certainly knows what he wants in a teammate.
On Wednesday, Bumgarner looked across the clubhouse and saw his big offseason target: Jeff Samardzija.
“I was actually kind of hoping that we would go after him and get a chance to sign him before there was even any talk about that,” Bumgarner said. “I’m super excited about that … He’s my kind of guy, I think, just from watching and being on the other side. I thought he would be a good fit for us and this clubhouse and the way we like to play baseball.”
Samardzija, who showed up early Wednesday as pitchers and catchers reported, was one of two big additions to the starting staff. Johnny Cueto was set to arrive from the Dominican Republic later on Wednesday, in time for Thursday’s first workout.
“Everybody has seen what kind of pitcher he is every year,” Bumgarner said of Cueto. “He’s been unbelievable for the Reds and for the Royals last year.”
Bumgarner remains the ace of the staff, and he’ll be on the mound Opening Day. He said the pressure to perform will remain the same, but he certainly has more backup than he has had at any point since ascending to the top of the rotation.
“Everybody knows what our goals are,” Bumgarner said in his first public comments since the end of last season. “I definitely feel good about it. There are a lot of talented teams out there and a lot of teams upgraded, so it’s going to be a fun year.”
Bumgarner looks poised for a big one. The tree-chopping lefty was already one of the most imposing starters in the big leagues, but he appears to be even stronger physically this spring. He said he’s the same weight, but he “trimmed up a little.”
“I do feel like I’m in pretty danged good shape, honestly,” Bumgarner said.
He again looks the part of a workhorse, and the Giants are looking forward to lining up behind the 26-year-old on Opening Day. Cueto and Samardzija will follow in some order as part of a rotation that makes the Giants one of the early favorites to win the World Series. Just don’t tell that to the players in the clubhouse.
“It (doesn’t) matter to us whether we’re considered favorites or underdogs or whatever,” Bumgarner said. “We don’t care about that. We know what we’ve got to do, and that’s what we’re focused on doing.”
ICYMI: Three of the guys following Bumgarner — Cueto, Samardzija and Matt Cain — have contracts that guarantee them at least $90 million. Jake Peavy will make more than Bumgarner this season, too. Bumgarner was asked if he wants an extension at some point, and here’s what he had to say.
HEALTH UPDATE: Bochy had a scope on his left shoulder and walked around Wednesday with the arm tucked into his shirt. He said the shoulder has been bothering him for about a year and he was diagnosed with a biceps tear and bone chips. He had surgery on his left shoulder in 2009, but this injury won’t force him to miss any time this spring.
“The birth certificate is catching up with me a little bit, I guess,” Bochy joked.
NOTEWORTHY: Bochy said he’ll try to get every position player a bit more rest this spring. He had hoped to do the same thing last spring, but injuries forced him to play some guys a little bit too much. Bochy has always paid a lot of attention to the fact that fans pay good money to come watch Cactus League games and they want to see stars. He often tells a story about how he used to watch spring games as a kid, so he knows the disappointment that comes when you're watching minor leaguers instead of a Bumgarner or Buster Posey. Asked about ticket prices, Bochy started to compare current prices to the ones he paid. Then he stopped.
“What am I talking about,” he said, smiling wide. “We snuck in.”
QUOTABLE: “That’s pretty special. I don’t really like to talk about personal accomplishments, but it is a pretty special accomplishment for your manager and teammates to have that sort of confidence in you.” — Bumgarner on getting a third straight Opening Day assignment.