OAKLAND — Madison Bumgarner is cleared to hit in place of the designated hitter, but the Giants officially nixed his presence in baseball’s annual hitting exhibition. Manager Bruce Bochy was clear before Thursday’s game: “There’s no Home Run Derby with Madison. That’s been nixed.”
The announcement came a couple hours before Bumgarner’s start against the A’s, when he’ll hit ninth in place of the designated hitter. Bochy is the first manager in four decades to willingly give up the DH, but the Giants weren’t willing to give up their ace for the home run derby. The discussion spurred earlier this month after the Giants played the Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball. Bumgarner’s batting practice highlights were shown on the ESPN broadcast, and Bumgarner told ESPN about his desire to participate in the derby.
Bochy and the Giants were publicly torn about the decision, mulling over the possibility of their ace being injured.
“Initially your feelings are to keep him out of (the derby) because I know how competitive he is and how hard he’ll swing,” Bochy said on June 7. “But at the same time I think it would create interest with the fans getting to watch one of the bets pitchers in the game swing the bat and see the talent there.”
In the end, the Giants weren’t the only ones with some opposition to the idea. Bochy said the Players Association may not have liked a pitcher taking the spot of a position player in the derby. The manager added that next year, Major League Baseball might take a harder look at a derby format catered toward pitcher’s participation.