SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park today will be filled with fanfare, from an MVP bobblehead giveaway to all of the postseason honors he will collect in a special ceremony.
Not that the big San Francisco lefty is thinking about any of it much as he concentrates on a new year with the reigning World Series champions.
“I try to keep everything as simple as I can. I’m not thinking about last year or last start or whatever,” said Bumgarner, who is 1-1 and will pitch again Thursday against Arizona. “I want to be trying to get better no matter how good something is or how bad it is. That’s not going change the fact that I want to get better.”
Bumgarner lost to James Shields and the Padres in San Diego on Saturday, his first defeat since Sept. 23 in his final regular-season start last year. The NL Championship Series and World Series MVP won two Series games and earned the save in Game 7 at Kansas City as the Giants captured their third championship in five years.
The Giants and their fans are planning one of their biggest celebrations yet for today’s home opener at AT&T Park, with some surprises.
“It’s going to be a great day for our fans, raising the flag,” manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday. “It’ll be an emotional day, when everybody realizes what we accomplished.”
Bumgarner, the 25-year-old southpaw who chops down trees to stay in shape, will receive his hardware in a pregame ceremony Tuesday night at AT&T Park, including receiving his trophy for Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2014. He threw 21 of his 270 innings last season in the World Series.
On Monday, the Giants will remember and honor longtime Hall of Fame broadcaster Lon Simmons and Hall of Fame writer Nick Peters, who both died in recent weeks.
Bochy loves opening day, whether on the road or the home opener already a week into the season.
“If you can play every day like opening day and get yourself up like you do for opening day, you’re probably going to have a good year,” he said. “That’s how we like to play every game, that’s the most important game of the year. Opening day is that day. It’s an important game. It probably helps set the tone a little bit.”
Giants fans won’t get their first look just yet at new third baseman Casey McGehee, the replacement for Pablo Sandoval. McGehee is nursing a left knee injury that will sideline him for a few days following a cortisone shot.
Chris Heston, Monday afternoon’s starter against Colorado, will be only the second rookie in San Francisco history to start a home opener.
“That’s one of the best places in baseball to play on a regular day, so with a little added excitement out there I think it’s going to be electric,” the right-hander said.
With the Giants’ every-other-year championship trend — winning in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14 — Bochy is all about his players doing the little things early in the season that could make a difference down the stretch.
“We’ve got to stay healthy, and you’ve got to have your guys have their year that you expect,” Bochy said. “All that happens, the talent’s here. We don’t need one guy to carry this club — Buster (Posey) or Hunter (Pence) — we need everybody do what they’re capable of doing and we’ll be fine. There’s nothing we did different in ‘13 than ‘12 or ‘14. It just goes to show you how difficult it is to win. A lot of teams would like to do it once. You do it three times and, ‘Well, how come you don’t win every year?’ That’s not going to happen.”