SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Dare to ask Madison Bumgarner how his arm feels after pitching 270 innings last season and expect a wisecrack from the World Series MVP in response.
''It feels just like an arm,'' he quipped. ''It's the craziest thing.''
But how's he doing after all the ''high-stress innings'' last fall?
''High stress for? You?'' Bumgarner asked Friday, sitting in a suite high above a rain-soaked AT&T Park a day before FanFest.
After his spectacular October on the postseason stage, Bumgarner returned home to North Carolina to unwind. That means doing some fishing and hunting, riding horses, just about every outdoor activity possible - ''for the exception of a few things, no skydiving,'' he said. The pitcher and his wife attended a rodeo in Las Vegas, too.
The 25-year-old Bumgarner needed a mental break after an October that put him right up there with the best postseason pitchers ever.
''It's a crazy ride for one month of baseball,'' he said.
Now, he's ready to lead the Giants into another season.
Because Bumgarner threw 270 innings, including 21 with two wins and a save in the World Series, the Giants will monitor the lefty's workload early in spring training. Though the training staff and brass aren't overly concerned with their ace given his durability and strength.
''You can't change anything,'' he said. ''Just keep doing what you were doing. You've got to have a short memory in this game, I'm a firm believer in that.''
Bumgarner, also MVP of the NL Championship Series, went 4-1 during the postseason following an 18-10 regular season.
From his four-hit, 10-strikeout gem that got things started in an 8-0 wild-card win at Pittsburgh all the way through his brilliant relief outing in Game 7 to beat the Royals, Bumgarner shined like never before.
''He's actually done it longer than people think,'' general manager Brian Sabean said. ''It goes all the way back to 2010, but he forever seems to take it to the next level. He's one of those guys, he's got so much pride and he's so competitive, he's got the ability to shed last year no matter how it turned out, and he wants to take the next step forward in his career. He's always looking to get better, and the great ones are like that.''
Bumgarner hasn't gone back to watch any World Series highlights, such as his five scoreless innings of relief on two days' rest in the 3-2 Game 7 clincher at Kansas City that sent San Francisco to its third title in five years.
''I think that's pretty ingrained in my memory for good,'' he said. ''Maybe at some point we'll get a chance to do that. I don't watch a whole lot of TV.''
The Giants locked up Bumgarner long-term in April 2012 on a $35.56 million, six-year contract through 2017. It could keep him in orange and black even longer, given the $12 million options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Not that he focuses any attention on that.
''Me and my family are taken care of for the rest of our lives. We've had some great success,'' he said. ''The only thing I care about is winning championships. ... We've tried to ignore all the hype and publicity. It's great what's happened but when it comes down to it we've got one job to do and that's to be ready to pitch for the San Francisco Giants in 2015.''
From manager Bruce Bochy to pitching coach Dave Righetti and catcher Buster Posey, nobody expects the cowboy boot and country western fan to alter his approach or soft-spoken, sometimes sarcastic, nature after the October breakout.
''That's what makes him good, he'll be true to his roots and it will probably serve him well,'' Posey said.
Bumgarner is ready to buck the every-other-year championship run - the Giants won it all in 2010, '12 and last year.
''I feel like we've got a championship-caliber club again,'' he said. ''It's funny how it's worked out that way. We'd like to break that trend, that's for sure.''