Madison Bumgarner has logged 249 innings already this season on his brawny left arm with the Giants making their third deep postseason run in five years. Given that number, manager Bruce Bochy was asked today whether he’d felt the need to check on Bumgarner before naming him the Giants’ starter for the opening game of the World Series.
“I think I would’ve insulted him if I checked on him,” Bochy said.
No, Bochy said, he isn’t about to start changing things up at this point. Bumgarner, the staff ace, will take the ball for the Giants in Game 1 against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, followed by the same rotation the Giants have used throughout the playoffs.
Bumgarner will face Royals right-hander James Shields in Kansas City, with right-hander Jake Peavy opposing Yordano Ventura in Game 2. When the series shifts to AT&T Park, it will be Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong in Games 3 and 4, Bochy said.
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On that note, Bochy said the Giants have no plans to alter the 25-man roster they used for the National League Championship Series — meaning right-hander Tim Lincecum will be active against the Royals.
Lincecum was the only player on the active roster not to appear in the NLCS, nor has he pitched in the postseason. Still, Bochy said the Giants see value in having Lincecum as an option out of the bullpen.
“When you get in the postseason, there’s probably going to be a guy, maybe two, that don’t get a lot of work,” Bochy said. “But it doesn’t mean he may not play a key role.”
As an example, Bochy cited Game 2 of the N.L. Division Series, which the Giants won in 18 innings over the Washington Nationals. Had the Giants not taken the lead in the top of the 18th, Bochy said, Lincecum would have relieved Yusmeiro Petit in the bottom of the inning. When Brandon Belt hit a go-ahead home run, Bochy went with Hunter Strickland in the bottom of the 18th for the save.
Lincecum, a key contributor out of the bullpen for the Giants in 2012, has not pitched in a game since Sept. 28. Bochy said the plan had been for Lincecum to face live hitters in the Giants’ workout at AT&T Park on Saturday, but the right-hander arrived with a stiff neck.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Bochy said. “I think he’ll be fine tomorrow.”
One reason for Lincecum’s conspicuous absence has been Petit’s performance in the long-relief or swing-man role. Petit has allowed just two hits in nine scoreless innings over two vital appearances – six innings in the marathon NLDS Game 2 and three in the Giants’ Game 4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, after Vogelsong lasted just three innings in his start.
Bochy, though, said there was little consideration given to replacing Vogelsong with Petit in the starting rotation. Bochy cited Petit’s value as a reliever and said he was inclined to treat Vogelsong’s NLCS outing as “a little bit of a hiccup,” after Vogelsong allowed only one run in 52/3 innings in the NLDS clincher against Washington.
Bochy also pointed to Game 4 against the Cardinals as another instance when Lincecum might have come into play. Petit exited after the sixth inning, leaving Lincecum as the Giants’ long-relief option in a game that was tied going into the ninth inning. Had it gone into extra innings, Bochy said, Lincecum might well have appeared.
“You can’t ever have enough pitching and experience,” Bochy said. “I think about Timmy, trust me, and the fact that he hasn’t been in there. I haven’t forgotten what he’s done for us, what he could do for us. So far it’s worked out well, but still I’d like to get him to be a part of it.”
By keeping his rotation the same, Bochy allowed for his session with reporters to take a quirky turn. Bumgarner (from Hickory, N.C.), Peavy (Mobile, Ala.) and Hudson (Columbus, Ga.) all hail from the South – and occupy the same corner of the Giants’ clubhouse, which Bochy said has developed a distinct Southern vibe.
“I like my rednecks,” Bochy said with a chuckle. “They’re a good bunch of guys. They come out and get after it and play the game right.”
Bochy pointed out that the Giants have “a very diverse group in there.” Lincecum hails from Washington state, rookie second baseman Joe Panik from New York. The Giants also have a strong Venezuelan contingent, players from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and a hitting coach, Hensley Meulens, who was knighted in his native country of Curacao.
“We’re from all over,” Bochy said. “I think diversity, that’s a beautiful thing.”
Still, Peavy said that when he arrived via a midseason trade, having a Southern connection with his new rotation mates – and the Pennsylvania native Vogelsong, who is “every bit a part of this mix as not” – helped him get comfortable quickly.
“You figure you were raised the same, you have a lot in common off the field,” Peavy said. “It’s easy to strike up a friendship when that happens.”
Bochy, who was born in France but went to college at Florida State, said the Southern flavor has permeated the rest of the clubhouse – in one way literally.
“We told our (team chef), ‘Listen, we’ve got some Southerners here. We need some grits,’” Bochy said. “So every day game, there’s grits.”
Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkawahara.