SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner today refuted a report that surfaced Friday night saying he was telling teammates he intended to start Game 4 of the World Series today against the Kansas City Royals.
One national reporter posted to Twitter that Bumgarner had told teammates he would "not take no for an answer." Giants manager Bruce Bochy had said before the Giants’ loss in Game 3 that bringing Bumgarner back for Game 4 on short rest was discussed, but later confirmed it will be right-hander Ryan Vogelsong taking the mound today.
Bumgarner today said he saw the report: "I never said anything like that."
"Obviously I’d be available if they wanted to go in that direction, which is not my call," he said. "When it comes to this time of year, you’ve got to be ready anytime you’re called upon.
"We knew that might be an option, but at the same time, everybody in that clubhouse has all the confidence in the world in Vogey. And again, that comment, that was out of nowhere. I never said anything remotely like that, so I don’t know where it came from."
Bumgarner said he did alter his between-starts throwing program by "(backing) off a little bit." Bumgarner said that was a "mutual decision" between him and the coaches. "I wanted to make sure I was prepared." Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that idea didn’t come from the staff and, "I think he wanted to keep that option open."
The bottom line, though, is that Vogelsong is starting today and Bumgarner tomorrow in what’s shaping up as a crucial game for the Giants regardless of what happens today. If they lose Game 4, Bumgarner will be trying to help them stave off elimination. If it’s a 2-2 series entering tomorrow, he’ll try to give them the series lead before the teams go back to Kansas City.
It was pointed out to Bumgarner that he has thrown 256 innings this year between the regular season and postseason, about 50 more than he totaled in 2013. His response:
"I don’t think that has anything to do with anything. I work hard and take care of myself, and I think that’s what’s important."
On that note, the left-hander was also asked whether he would still be available for an emergency appearance in a potential Game 7, when all hands would likely be on deck, even after pitching Game 5.
"Always available," Bumgarner said.
* The Giants’ lineup for Game 4, with a couple tweaks:
And the Royals’ lineup, same as in Game 3:
* Juan Perez starts in left field today in place of Travis Ishikawa. The Giants are facing a left-hander in Jason Vargas, but Bochy also said he wants his best defensive outfield out there today. That’s also the reason it’s Perez, not Michael Morse, replacing Ishikawa.
"I had an option there with Morse, but he has not been out there in two months, and the wind is blowing pretty good out there now," Bochy said.
Morse had a pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth inning of Game 3, and also had a big home run off the bench in the clincher of the NLCS against St. Louis. The Giants could use an offensive spark right now, but Bochy said he values Morse in a pinch-hit role.
"He’s done a pretty good job coming off the bench in key situations," Bochy said. "So we’re going to keep him there tonight."
Bochy had said after last night’s game that Morse was sick and running a fever before first pitch, but said today: "He’s ready to go."
* The other tweak in the lineup is Hunter Pence moving up to the cleanup spot and Pablo Sandoval to fifth against Vargas. Where the Giants could really use a boost, though, is in the No. 3 spot -- Buster Posey has two hits in the series, both singles, and doesn’t have an extra-base hit this postseason.
Hitting coach Hensley Meulens said last night Posey’s swing looks OK, and Bochy today echoed the idea that Posey can break out at any time.
"I always feel Buster’s going to have a good game," Bochy said. "We’re facing some good pitching, and he’s hit some balls hard.
"He’s made some hard outs. Part of this game is having a little luck and a break. But I think he’s swinging fine. When he goes out there, we always expect him to do something good."
* For all the talk about Bumgarner, there’s a reason the Giants say they have confidence in Vogelsong going into this game. In Vogelsong’s six career playoff starts, the Giants are 6-0, and the right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA.