SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was willing, but manager Bruce Bochy decided not to rush the left-hander back to the mound on short rest and kept him on course to pitch Game Five of the World Series on Sunday.
A ‘will he or won’t he’ confusion surfaced late Friday when a report surfaced that Bumgarner had told team mates he would be starting Game Four against the Kansas City Royals.
Bochy shot that down with a declaration that Ryan Vogelsong would take his scheduled turn on Saturday with the Giants trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven.
A ‘did he or didn’t he’ confusion still existed, however, as Bochy said on Saturday he did not ask the lefty to alter his routine in case he was called upon to start on short rest for the first time in his career.
Bumgarner, meanwhile, said his adjustment was “a mutual thing”.
“We didn’t tell him to change his routine. I think he wanted to keep that option open,” Bochy told reporters before Saturday’s game. “But we weren’t going to change our course.”
Bumgarner denied the premature report that he insisted he would be taking the mound on Saturday.
“I never said anything like that,” said Bumgarner, who shut the Royals down on one run and three hits over seven innings in San Francisco’s 7-1 win in the series opener.
“They didn’t tell me to. (But) I knew that it would be an option, and we talked just briefly about it,” added Bumgarner.
“So I wanted to make sure I was prepared. You just back off everything a little bit becaue you would be going on one day shorter rest. It’s not really a big deal.”
One change Bochy made for Saturday was a defensive move as he inserted Juan Perez into left field to start in place of Travis Ishikawa, in a change that echoed a chess move made on Friday by Kansas City.
The Royals started Jarrod Dyson in center and moved Lorenzo Cain to right to improve their coverage of the spacious AT&T Park outfield.
“I think it’s made a huge impact on the series,” Bochy said when asked about the Royals’ glove work. “That’s what defense will do for you, and they’ve done a great job.”
”Cain’s had not just a great year, but he’s had a great series. He made some nice catches.
“When you catch a ball in the outfield or you make a mistake those are game-changing plays, and that’s one reason why I had Perez out there...and the wind is blowing a little bit. We think we have our best defense out there tonight.”
As for the Giants’ pitching, Bochy said he planned to remain in rotation if the series goes the distance, with Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson set to start a Game Six and Game Seven.
“Right. We wouldn’t change anything,” the manager said.
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes