Giants starter Madison Bumgarner helped his own cause on Sunday afternoon against the Cardinals, blasting his third home run of the season and No. 17 in his career. The no-doubt solo home run came on a 2-0 fastball from Luke Weaver in the bottom of the fifth, tying the game at two apiece.
Bumgarner and Carlos Zambrano are the only pitchers to have hit 17 or more home runs in this millennium. Bumgarner has also hit at least three home runs in each of the last four seasons. The last pitcher (min. 80 percent of career games as a pitcher) to have at least four seasons of three-plus homers was Don Drysdale (1958-59, ’61, ’65).
Unfortunately for the Giants, Bumgarner wasn’t as effective on the mound. He gave up five runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings. He served up three home runs. Bumgarner now owns a 3.15 ERA with an 86/16 K/BB ratio in 91 1/3 innings.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.