Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner declared himself fit to return to the big leagues sooner than expected if needed following his first rehab start since pinkie surgery.
Bumgarner took an encouraging step in his recovery, throwing 47 pitches (31 strikes) for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. He mixed his fastball with a nasty curve over 3 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings, striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced from Albuquerque. Bumgarner walked one.
"The breaking stuff was moving right, the command of it was good," Bumgarner said. "The fastball command was good. Pretty much everything I was looking for. It's not perfect, but it was definitely something to feel good about for the first time out there."
The four-time All-Star struck out the side in the first inning, getting the first two hitters to go down looking. After recording a pair of first-pitch outs in the second, Bumgarner struck out Stephen Cardullo to end the inning. He fanned the first two batters swinging in the fourth.
"All the baseball stuff, throwing, hitting, all that stuff, I don't notice it at all," said Bumgarner, who also singled in his only plate appearance. "It feels completely normal at this point. My command was good. My breaking balls were doing pretty good also, so that's what I was looking for. Everything headed in the right direction."
Bumgarner was hit by a line drive from the Royals' Whit Merrifield on March 23 in the Giants' last game of Spring Training. He underwent surgery the following day to have three pins inserted in his left hand and was later transferred to the 60-day disabled list
After the pins were removed on April 19, Bumgarner was cleared to begin rehab. He threw three times off a mound, then faced hitters for the first time last Tuesday before making the first of what is expected to be at least three rehab starts.
Bumgarner's next outing will likely come on Thursday with Class A Advanced San Jose because Sacramento will be out of town.
But Bumgarner didn't rule out a quick return to the Majors and said he feels capable of starting right away for the Giants if necessary.
"I obviously didn't know before today, but judging off the way I felt out there, I think so for sure," Bumgarner said. "I wouldn't say I'd be back and be in midseason form, but I feel definitely good enough to get some outs."