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Bochy encouraged with Bumgarner’s progress, hints at early return date



© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Madison Bumgarner has made solid progress since he fractured his fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand during his final Spring Training start on March 23. It now appears he is making accelerated progress, with Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reporting that Bumgarner could potentially make his season debut on the first day of his return from the 60-day disabled list, on May 25.

“He could be ready right when his date is up,” Bochy told reporters Sunday. “It’s going to be close. That’s how well he’s throwing the ball.”

This is the best possible news in an otherwise dire situation. The Giants need Bumgarner to return badly.

Sunday’s 5-0 win over the streaking Pittsburgh Pirates snapped San Francisco’s six-game losing streak. Opponents outscored the Giants 49-15 during the skid, littered with losses by margins of 11, nine, and eight runs.

They have had to rely on inexperienced newcomers and struggling veterans to step up in the absence of Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, who was sent to the 60-day disabled list Friday due to a strained right elbow.

Bumgarner may only need a couple of rehab starts before returning to the major leagues. Jeff Samardzija returned after only one rehab start last month. He has struggled mightily ever since, allowing at least five earned runs in three of his past four starts. Samardzija is 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA after five starts. He has not produced a quality outing yet this season.

While they desperately need their ace back, they won’t want to force the issue with Bumgarner. But it appears Bochy is considering bringing him back quicker than previously expected, initially believed to be early June, setting May 25 as Bumgarner’s potential return date.