SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Madison Bumgarner took another positive step in preparation for his first opening-day start, pitching three scoreless innings Tuesday in the San Francisco Giants’ 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Bumgarner allowed a ground single and a bloop single while striking out one. He’s thrown five shutout innings this spring since manager Bruce Bochy declared him the starter for the March 31 opener at Arizona.
The 24-year-old lefty said he threw all his pitches, but relied mostly on fastballs as he strengthens his arm.
“The pitches I made from the stretch felt better than they did last time,” Bumgarner said. “There were still some balls I left up, but at least it wasn’t on a regular basis. So I feel good about it.”
Bumgarner went 13-9 with a career-best 2.77 ERA last year and was the only Giants starter with a winning record during their 76-86 season. But the rotation has looked strong so far this spring. Ryan Vogelsong followed Bumgarner and allowed one run on three hits in three innings.
Ryan Wheeler’s double in the sixth scored the first run allowed by the Giants’ projected rotation in 14 innings. The starters have given up just one walk.
“Bumgarner and Vogelsong both looked really sharp,” Bochy said.
Tyler Colvin and Tony Abreu drove in runs in the fourth against Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins to put San Francisco ahead to stay.
Rockies: With Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) possibly set to miss a few starts in April, Colorado is hoping Juan Nicasio can grab a rotation spot.
Nicasio, finally healthy after 2012 knee surgery, allowed two hits and struck out four in three scoreless innings.
“I used to hang my slider a lot,” he said. “I couldn’t put my weight on my knee and I would throw with only my arm. Now I have better (stability) with my knee, so my breaking ball is sharper now.”
Rockies manager Walt Weiss called the outing “encouraging.”
Giants: First baseman Brandon Belt started and went 2 for 3 with a single and a double after missing Monday’s game with a stiff neck. Belt is 6 for 10 this spring.
Rockies: First baseman Justin Morneau, who hasn’t played since Friday, sat out again with a sore neck. Weiss said Morneau probably would miss Wednesday’s game.
“My feeling is hitters don’t need many at-bats down here,” Weiss said.
Backup catcher Jordan Pacheco said an MRI on his strained left shoulder showed no structural damage. He called the pain a result of “overuse” and said he should be fine after a few days of rest.
Second baseman Josh Rutledge (left ankle) remained sidelined.
CUDDYER’S NEW SPOT
Seeking more power at the top of the order, Weiss has moved NL batting champion Michael Cuddyer to second in the lineup.
The right fielder hit .331 with 20 homers and 84 RBIs last season while in the middle of the order.
“For me it’s no different,” said Cuddyer, who didn’t play Tuesday. “I think a lot of times we make a big deal about where we hit in the order and you try to cater your game to that.
“I think it’s the manager’s job to put your skill set in the position that he thinks is going to be beneficial to the team. My approach to hitting doesn’t change.”
Cuddyer, who turns 35 this month, is 0 for 7 while batting second in three spring games.
“My first couple weeks of spring is just seeing where I am timing-wise,” he said.
– By MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press
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