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Madison Bumgarner faces live hitting as MLB summer camp continues

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws prior to the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Scottsdale Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Diamondbacks ace Madison Bumgarner was supposed to take the mound to pitch for the first time at Chase Field as a member of the home team on March 26 against the Atlanta Braves.

Due to the season being pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, Bumgarner finally stepped on the mound to face live hitting at Chase Field 99 days later.

Instead of facing the Atlanta Braves, Bumgarner on Saturday pitched to hitters from his own team in live batting practice as Major League Baseball’s “summer camp” continued in preparation for the shortened 60-game season.

The 30-year-old lefty pitched two innings of work, throwing 35 to 40 pitches, according to D-backs Manager Torey Lovullo.

It wasn’t the smoothest of live batting practice appearances for Bumgarner, giving up home runs to Ildemaro Vargas and Jon Jay, but that’s to be expected this early in the resumption of training.

“Admittedly his stuff wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t sharp, but today is day one where you’re just trying to get that dirt on your spikes and get a feel for the rubber, get a feel for the mound and get a feel for throwing the ball out front,” Lovullo said in Zoom call with the media on Saturday.

Bumgarner agreed with his manager, saying he felt pretty good given the circumstances.

“Obviously it wasn’t perfect, don’t expect it to be, but for where we’re at right now, I was pretty happy,” he said.

Bumgarner told reporters he kept a pretty similar schedule during the downtime and maintained his arm strength.

He said the plan is to try and map it out to where he feels like he’s hitting a stride when the season starts.

Lovullo said he was pleased with how his new ace got through the live batting practice session, adding Bumgarner told him he’s right where he wants to be.

Saturday was a different dynamic for Lovullo watching Bumgarner pitch in a D-backs uniform on the mound at Chase Field.

Bumgarner spent the last 11 seasons as a member of the rival San Francisco Giants.

“I was looking at him wondering if he was comfortable, if he remembers what it was like for all the times that he’s gone on the mound here and thrown against the D-backs,” Lovullo said. “I spent a few pitches watching him, wondering about the familitiary aspect of it and hopefully this starts to feel like home for him.” 

Lovullo said Bumgarner will get back on the mound at Chase Field in two or three days and that Robbie Ray would be pitching live batting practice on Sunday.

DIAMONDBACKS CORONAVIRUS CASES

Lovullo said another Diamondbacks player has tested positive for the coronavirus, but said the player is not on the 40-man roster.

The team confirmed to Arizona Sports on Thursday that one member of the 40-man roster, one minor league coach and “several” minor league players had also tested positive for the virus.


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