If you thought Madison Bumgarner was only joking about participating in the 2016 Home Run Derby, then you obviously don’t know Madison Bumgarner.
The San Francisco Giants ace was dead serious when he told ESPN’s Buster Olney on Sunday that he would like to compete in next month’s event at Petco Park in San Diego. He’s since reiterated that desire, adding that “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it.”
That puts the ball in the court of the league and perhaps whomever is put in charge of selecting the National League’s derby team.
The Giants would obviously have a say in the matter too. They would undoubtedly prefer their valuable left-hander take it easy and not take any unnecessary risks by swinging for the fences with his adrenaline pumping in front of a hyped audience, but Bumgarner is not fazed by those risks. In fact, he’s already countered the injury argument by noting that the Giants were willing to put him on a horse during last season’s opening day ceremonies, and that swinging a bat is a far less risky proposition.
The left-hander pointed out to reporters that the team let him ride a horse in April last year when he carried the team’s World Series banner onto the AT&T Park field before the home opener. That posed a bigger risk to his health than swinging a bat would, he said.
“I mean, they had me ride a horse on the field, so if they trust me with something like that with 40-some-thousand people going crazy and I can’t do baseball activities, that’s a little bit different,” Bumgarner told reporters. “We’ll talk about it for sure. I’m not trying to say that this is a done deal or anything like that.”
He does make a good point. Falling off a horse would seem to have some troubling long range consequences. Then again, swinging a bat can cause its own issues, especially when the muscles around the ribcage and back become irritated.
That would be the Giants main concern should Bumgarner take that step, though the organzation does at least sound willing to consider it.
Bochy said Tuesday that he planned to talk with Giants vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean and general manager Bobby Evans soon to discuss the organization’s position on Bumgarner’s Derby aspirations.
“Your initial feelings are to keep him out of it because I know how competitive he is and how hard he’ll swing, but at the same time I think it’ll create interest with fans getting to watch one of the best pitchers in the game swing the bat,” Bochy told reporters.
Bumgarner is the active home run leader among pitchers, having launched the 13th of his career last Thursday in Atlanta. Bumgarner then lit up Busch Stadium with an impressive batting practice display that seemingly opened the door to this discussion.
Like most things in life, this possbility almost sounds too good to ever become a reality. But Bumgarner isn’t going down without a fight, and that gives us hope that we’ll finally see something truly unique and ground-breaking at the Home Run Derby. .
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