One day after a 16-inning contest against the Mets Thursday in which Madison Bumgarner tossed nine innings for the first time since 2016 in one of his finest performances in years, the big lefty faced a barrage of questions on a topic he, his manager and his teammates have grown beyond weary of.
And in that moment he snapped:
“I don’t give a shit [about trade rumors], I’m here to win games for this team and that’s what we’re doing.”
This sentiment is not a new one to his co-workers, but it was the first time Bumgarner delivered it with such fire to the public, and Derek Holland said he really appreciated the showing of passionate support and solidarity. Holland said:
“It was awesome, I loved it. To go out and see a guy like Bum go out and do what he just did yesterday, I mean, excuse my language, that’s fucking huge for us. That’s something that we love seeing, this guy is putting it all out there for us. To forget about the trade rumors and all that stuff— he’s still showing he’s a Giant and he wants to be here.”
Bumgarner dealt with truncated seasons in the last two years, which may have stunted his ability to hit his stride. An April 2017 dirt bike accident knocked him out for nearly three months, and a 2018 Spring Training line drive to the hand shelved him until early June with a fractured pinky. In 2019, though, he’s been injury-free, and with every start has taken a step toward his former greatness.
He, like every other Giant, has been on a hot streak since San Francisco acquired little-known outfielder Alex Dickerson from the Padres in late June. Dickerson has appeared to be a catalyst for the slumping club and the success has not skipped over Bumgarner, who in his last five outings dating back to June 25 has posted a 1.55 ERA, with a 0.97 WHIP and a 6.8 strikeout to walk ratio.
So as a three-time world champion turning 30 the day after the July 31 trade deadline whose contract is up at the end of the season, it’s no surprise Bumgarner is one of a handful of trade chips on everyone’s lips.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who’s faced no end of questions about Bumgarner’s status amid myriad trade rumors, said he’s not surprised to hear how invested the Giants ace is despite all the noise:
“He loves his teammates and he’s excited about how we’re playing, so it does mean a lot that he’s not looking for anything else but to come out and help this team and hopefully get back to where we want to go. That’s what makes him special. He’s not thinking about the possibility of maybe getting traded or what’s going to happen either now or at the end of the year, he’s just here to compete and help us win.”
Kevin Pillar also expressed respect for Bumgarner and his adamant focus and allegiance to his teammates. But from what he’s come to know of Bumgarner in the short time he’s been a Giant, it also wasn’t unexpected. Pillar said:
“He is who he is, he’s not a different person behind closed doors he’s the same dude, so I’m not surprised he said that. He’s been here a long time and he’s meant a lot to this organization, but for him to kind of step up and make a public statement like that, it’s really cool.”
As the Giants (48-49) hot streak continues — they’ve won six straight and 13 of their last 15 and climbed to two-and-a-half games out of the second Wild Card spot — the team certainly isn’t making decision-maker and President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi’s job easy.
Are the last few weeks a fluke or should the Giants pull Bumgarner off the trading block? Do the Giants go as Bumgarner goes, or can they have their cake and eat it, too, by trading the franchise hero to restock the farm and continuing the run without him? It all remains to be seen.
At least one guy doesn’t seem to harbor any uncertainty, though. Bumgarner said:
“I’m trying to win games for the Giants. We’re trying to get in the postseason, we’re making a push — we’re coming.”