Besides the video interview I did with Cody Ross, the other players I talked with on San Francisco Giants Media Day were with Madison Bumgarner, Nate Schierholtz and Darren Ford. We didn’t have a ton of time on Media Day to talk to everyone before the press conference announcing the Giants picking up the 2012 options for Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. So my choices were to run around and try to ask everyone one or two questions, or try to get to know a few players better than I have though the media I consume every day on my laptop and phone … um, I mean my printed newspaper.
After catching a little video of Freddy Sanchez talking about his injury, I went to the luxury suite nextdoor where Bumgarner was chatting with a few people about the normal talking points: was he tired after so many innings last year (no); is he in shape going into this season (yes); was it exciting to win the World Series (yes); was he tired at the end of last season (no). Then those reporters left, and I asked Bumgarner a question (which you’ll see below). While he was answering my question, Scott Ostler and someone else — from one of the radio stations around here, not someone I recognized — entered the room and kind of took over.
I patiently waited, partly because the event had started moments ago and partly because I figured if I waited long enough I’d have some time to ask Bumgarner some questions I prepared, ones I didn’t really think the other media guys would be interested in (but stuff the fans want to know, hopefully). Those questions are in the upcoming Part 2 of this Q&A session.
Why am I presenting a bunch of answers to questions I didn’t ask? Partially, to show what people in different areas of the media are looking for from an interview setting like this. I also found it interesting how Bumgarner tried to squash the widely accepted idea that his troubles early last season came from coming into Spring Training out of shape, like he rolled out of bed after a winter of lying on the couch and drinking Mountain Dew.
BASG: You kind of mentioned how people thought you might fade down the stretch because you’re younger, you haven’t done this before. Did that fuel you at the end of last season?
Bumgarner: No, I didn’t really even think about it. You know, just got asked about it a lot and had the same answer: ‘Just going to keep working and not change my routine, and we’ll see how it works out.’ I didn’t know how it was going to work out, but I felt good the whole year. I feel good now, so hopefully this year it will be the same.
Ostler: Did you work out a lot, in the off-season?
Bumgarner: Same as normal, you know. You don’t want to overdo it but you want to work hard and get in shape.
Ostler: Doing what, what do you do? Weightlifting?…
Bumgarner: Lifting, running. I take a month off and ease back into it and end up working out four days a week, running five days a week. Throwing, got my throwing schedule, so I should be ready for Spring.
Ostler: You got, based on postseason anyway, you have…let me ask you this: how are they going to decide who the Opening Day pitcher is? Do you think it will be a battle in Spring Training?
Bumgarner: I don’t know, I don’t think I have to worry about that but I don’t know, I’m sure it would be Timmy again. He’s a special guy.
Ostler: What if you went into Spring Training and, you know, blew the doors off everybody?
Bumgarner: I still don’t think it would have any effect on it. You got the pitching staff we have, I don’t think it’s going to change anything.
Ostler: Does it help to have guys like Timmy and Cain around in terms of competition? Because you can’t really slack off.
Bumgarner: Yeah, you know, I think we all, they all make each other better and I just feel blessed and fortunate to be a part of it, and I learn from them every day. I even called them this off-season with some questions, that’s very helpful.
Ostler: What kind of stuff would you ask them?
Bumgarner: About like their workout routine, their throwing. When they start throwing bullpens, how many, stuff like that. Just, little details.
Some Other Reporter: Spring training wasn’t great for you last year. Will you approach it any differently, was it more just mechanics?
Bumgarner: That’s it, 100% mechanics. I worked hard, did the same, I came in as good of shape as I could have came in. I guess, mechanics just wasn’t there and when they’re not it makes a big difference. That’s really the first time I had to learn my mechanics. That’s why I think it took so long to fix. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong or how to fix it. It was just some minor things, and I learned more about my mechanics last year than I ever thought I’d know.
SOR: How much did that maybe shake your confidence?
Bumgarner: It definitely had an effect. When you go in there throwing four or five miles an hour slower than you always have you kind of think, ‘Well, maybe this is just the kind of pitcher I’m going to be, I’ve got to find a way to get through it.’ And then you got thoughts that you can get out of it and it’s something else, but it was hard to deal with. I think our pitching coaches and other pitchers kind of helped cause they’ve all went through times like that. I’m glad I did go through it because I learned a lot going through that so I think that’s going to help in the long run.
SOR: To the other end of the spectrum Madison, September, you had a huge start against the Cubs, the third game back in Chicago, and your postseason success, what do you take from that heading into a new season?
Bumgarner: I just kept trying to work hard as the season went on and it’s a long year, play a lot of games, I didn’t want to try to slack off just because it’s almost the end of the year, I wanted to work hard and push to the end. I think that’s what helped me finish strong.
Then SOR started asking about the “amount of innings at his age” thing and I couldn’t take any more, so I turned off my recorder. Finally after waiting for another well known local columnist to come in and ask some questions about how Bumgarner’s little N.C. hometown reacted to their big city superstar gettin’ all famous and stuff (a pretty pompous theme if you ask me, the whole “Your hillbilly friends must think it’s wild that you’re here in this big city, doing important things instead of playing the banjo and making possum pie and moonshine on the porch.”), everyone cleared out and it was just Bumgarner and I.
Here’s Part 2 of this interview, the part where everyone has left the suite and I get to ask Bumgarner some questions without interruption.