MadBum batting and no DH "wasn't a tough call" for Bochy
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Bruce Bochy all but had his mind made up days ago: Madison Bumgarner would hit in an AL ballpark for interleague rather than using a designated hitter.
All the San Francisco Giants manager had to do was ask the ace pitcher himself, knowing full well the big left-hander would want to swing the bat. At first, MadBum thought Bochy was joking, then quickly said: ''No, I'd love to. I'd rather hit.''
Bumgarner doubled leading off the third inning of the finale of a four-game series against lefty Dillon Overton and the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night as San Francisco tried to avoid a sweep. The Giants batted around and he also ended the inning with an infield popup.
''This wasn't a tough call for me, the way he swings the bat, the numbers, facing a left-hander,'' Bochy said. ''All of these things came into play. It's nothing against our guys, but he's a pretty good hitter and it's a pretty good matchup. ... It keeps him in the game, the flow of his normal game being in the National League. He was all for it. And he would have been fine the other way. He didn't come to me, he didn't push for it. I went to him and said, `Hey, I'm thinking about letting you hit for yourself and not use the DH.'''
It will be the first time a team intentionally used a pitcher to hit instead of a DH since the Chicago White Sox allowed Ken Brett to do it in 1976 - the Rays were forced to bat pitcher Andy Sonnanstine in 2009 because of a lineup card mixup.
''That's a long time,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''I would love to have someone like that you could plug into the lineup depending on what your roster looked like. Not too many guys like him. I don't know what that feels like. They're a little banged up, too. He's got some power, swings the bat well. He's a real hitter, so he's not the kind of guy that you're consistently looking to try to get to the bottom of the order so you can walk somebody to get to him.''
Bumgarner began the day batting .175 with two homers and five RBIs in 40 at-bats. He even made a public plea to enter into the All-Star Home Run Derby, but Bochy said that idea is now off the table.
The players' union didn't want a Derby slot being taken by a pitcher, Bochy said, but the plan is to review the idea again of having a pitchers' derby.
''There is no Home Run Derby for Madison,'' Bochy said. ''It's been nixed.''
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said letting a pitcher hit in the Derby could be devastating, so he wouldn't do it.
''I would like to, but, again, they're not used to taking swings year-round,'' he said. ''If you're the San Francisco Giants, and he's a great hitter, Madison Bumgarner, he pulls a ribcage muscle, who's going to deal with that? Jake Arrieta pulls a ribcage muscle, who's going to deal with that? To me, it's different if it's a position player that plays every day, and you'd love to reward the guy and say, `Go have fun.' But a lot of times there's a lot on the line, and I would hate to see one of those guys go down because of the home run derby.''
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.