Tuesday against the Dodgers would have been Madison Bumgarner’s next start had he not crashed a dirt bike he rented in Colorado on an off-day last Thursday. It’s a massive blow. This is no secret. How impactful it will be becomes clearer as the season unfolds. But the latest in news revealed some positive encouragement: no surgery.
The fall left Bumgarner with bruised ribs, an AC sprain in his throwing arm and his first trip to the disabled list. But when addressing the media before game two of the four game series, manager Bruce Bochy confirmed there is no structural damage to the arm. In fact, Bumgarner will begin some light rehab work in the coming days—four-to-five, according to Bochy.
“It’s going to be slow at first, nothing major,” he said, adding that when things settle down more they’ll ramp up the process with the team’s training staff.
Yesterday Bumgarner told reporters he didn’t think there was any structural damage and was unsure if he would need surgery or not. He added that head team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki also believed surgery would not be necessary. And then hours before what would have been his turn in the rotation, against his highly-rivaled opponent, Clayton Kershaw, Bochy entirely ruled out surgery.
“No surgery or anything,” he said. “We’re going to rehab this thing.”
When Bumgarner had addressed the media yesterday—first time since the incident—he had reportedly not yet finished the MRI process, and thus there was a degree of uncertainty. “After looking at that (the results), they confirmed what they thought, and decided to continue with what the plan is—and that’s rehab it,” Bochy said.
A point of emphasis on rehabbing the shoulder was evident, as it should. Even with the top surgeons there’s varying degrees of risk associated with surgically repairing any body part. And with the inevitable stress that accompanies overhanding throwing, relying purely on strengthening and improving mobility is highly desirable.
Left-handed pitcher Ty Blach will make his first start of the season in place of Bumgarner. This isn’t the first time Blach and Kershaw have met, and Blach holds the advantage over the three-time CY Young Award winner. Last October, Blach tossed eight scoreless innings while adding two hits of his own on his way to capturing the win.
“We’ll go inning by inning with him (Blach), as far as how far he will go,” said Bochy. “We don’t have a strict pitch count on him. He just needs to go out and give us a chance to win, that’s all we ask of our starters.”
Matt Cain exited his impressive performance on Monday because of hamstring tightness and a sore foot that absorbed a liner from Yasmani Grandal. He had an MRI and everything checks out, though the foot is fairly sore. Bochy doesn’t believe it will effect his next start. In the event that it does, recently called up right-hander Chris Stratton would be among the top for consideration.