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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Giants' Bumgarner takes baby step

According to Brian Sabean (who should know), Madison Bumgarner is not hurt. And Bumgarner did pitch effectively Monday night against the Portland Beavers.

So what was wrong with him this spring? Here's Sabean (via Andrew Baggarly):

Can it really be so simple?

Just a couple of questions I would ask Brian Sabean, if I had his number and it wasn't one in the morning:

1. Wasn't Dick Tidrow with the club in spring training? If he was, why wasn't this mechanical adjustment made then?

2. Along the same lines, if Bumgarner's drop in fastball speed this spring was due to ill preparation and poor mechanics, then what was the problem last summer, when he mysteriously lost five miles an hour off his fastball?

If the "scoreboard radar gun" Monday night was accurate, that's a real marker for optimism. So I hesitate to mention that scoreboard radar guns are notoriously inaccurate, and that Bumgarner's ERA in three Triple-A starts is still 8.31, and that he was allowed to throw only 74 pitches Monday night, and that in six innings he struck out only three Portland Beavers.

It was a necessary first step. But it was a baby step, and those pesky questions remain.

It probably isn't fair, for a 20-year-old to have to deal with experienced Triple-A hitters and a new wife and curmudgeons like me. But Brian Sabean's right: If Bumgarner's got the requisite talents to succeed -- and, it should be said, the good luck to avoid tearing something important -- he's going to figure it out. All we can do is pull for him.