SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The clearest sign that Madison Bumgarner is ready for Opening Day came when he grabbed a bat. Bumgarner twice swung at the first pitch of an at-bat and nearly homered on his second swing of the spring.
He was pretty impressive on the mound, too.
Bumgarner had the longest start of the spring for the Giants, going six easy innings and allowing just one hit, a solo homer by Albert Pujols in the top of the first. He was perfect other than the Pujols homer, striking out five, walking none and getting into the 70s with his pitch count.
“I feel close,” Bumgarner said. “Everything has felt really good the last few times out. All my pitches feel good. I feel like my secondary pitches are better than they usually are at this point. I feel pretty good.”
The Angels seemed lulled to sleep by Bumgarner’s rhythmic pounding of the strike zone, and the sellout crowd seemed to expect this kind of performance. The crowd woke up in the fifth, however, giving Bumgarner a standing ovation when he bombed one about 420 feet to straightway center. Mike Trout tracked it down just in front of the wall.
“I really didn’t do anything,” Bumgarner said of the ovation. “It was an out.”
HEALTH WATCH: It’s impossible to tell exactly how quickly Hunter Pence’s forearm is healing underneath that cast, but there’s this: Pence has switched from a cast that went past his elbow to one that just covers his forearm. This should allow him to increase his activity a bit.
On his 25th birthday, Andrew Susac returned to the lineup and threw Trout out as the MVP tried to steal second. With runners on second and third and two down in the eighth, Susac picked the (random) guy off third. Susac had been sidelined since March 11 with right wrist inflammation. “It felt good,” he said of the wrist. “Cortisone does wonders.”
In case you missed it this morning, Angel Pagan talked about his latest back problem.
PLAY OF THE DAY: Gregor Blanco put the burners on to chase down Kole Calhoun’s liner to the left-center gap. Blanco made a diving catch, ending the third inning. Juan Perez later hauled a would-be double in on the warning track in left. At the very least, those two are possibly going to form one hell of a defensive platoon.
“I know what those guys can do,” Bumgarner said. “You’ve seen what they did for us last year. I’m 100 percent comfortable with them out there. We want them out there. I feel good about it.”
NOTEWORTHY: Over in the World Series rematch in Surprise, Chris Heston threw three scoreless innings to lower his Cactus League ERA to 2.00. Susac said Heston is throwing noticeably harder this spring after putting on a bit of weight ... Nori Aoki had his second straight two-hit game ... Brandon Crawford had a pair of hits, a run and an RBI ... Blanco hit leadoff at Scottsdale Stadium and had two hits, raising his average to .323 ... Matt Duffy had a solo homer, his second of the spring ... Justin Maxwell hasn't had a good spring at the plate, but he hit his first homer as a Giant and doubled to lead off the ninth.
QUOTABLE: “I don’t know what to say about that. I swing at strikes. I try to, anyway.” — Bumgarner, on seeing two total pitches in his first two at-bats of the spring.