OAKLAND, Calif. — Madison Bumgarner‘s skills as a hitter were on full display in Thursday night’s 12-6 win over the Oakland Athletics, which marked the first time in 40 years that a team intentionally used a pitcher to hit instead of a DH, but it appears his hopes of competing in a Home Run Derby are over for now.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that the idea of having Bumgarner enter an All-Star Home Run Derby is off the table. The players’ union didn’t want a derby slot being taken by a pitcher, Bochy said, but the plan is to review the idea of having a pitchers’ derby.
“That’s done. There will be no Home Run Derby for Madison,” Bochy said. “That’s been nixed. It’s out for this year, but they’ll revisit it next year.”
Earlier this month, Bumgarner, who has 13 career home runs, made a public plea to compete in the July derby by telling ESPN’s Buster Olney that it was a priority for him.
Bochy expressed his disapproval then and told Olney he wouldn’t let Bumgarner participate.
“No, to be serious, I couldn’t let him do it,” Bochy said. “We couldn’t let him do it.”
Bochy, however, said he would love to see what Bumgarner could do in the derby.
“And Bum, he’s convinced he could win it,” Bochy said. “I think he would wear himself down in the first round, he’d try to hit it so hard.”
Bumgarner doubled off lefty Dillon Overton to lead off the third inning of Thursday’s finale of a four-game series against Oakland. The Giants batted around, and Bumgarner ended the inning with an infield popup.
He finished 1-for-4 with a run scored. Bumgarner also improved to 9-4 after allowing four runs and seven hits and striking out four in 6⅓ innings.
Bochy said before the game that he had made up his mind days ago to let Bumgarner hit Thursday.
“This wasn’t a tough call for me. The way he swings the bat, the numbers, facing a left-hander,” Bochy said. “All of these things came into play. It’s nothing against our guys, but he’s a pretty good hitter, and it’s a pretty good matchup. … It keeps him in the game, the flow of his normal game being in the National League. He was all for it. And he would have been fine the other way. He didn’t come to me. He didn’t push for it. I went to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about letting you hit for yourself and not use the DH.'”
The 1976 Chicago White Sox had been the last team to intentionally use a pitcher to hit instead of a DH. They allowed Ken Brett to hit in 1976. The Rays were forced to bat pitcher Andy Sonnanstine in 2009 because of a lineup card mixup.
“That’s a long time,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I would love to have someone like that you could plug into the lineup, depending on what your roster looked like. Not too many guys like him. I don’t know what that feels like. They’re a little banged up too. He’s got some power, swings the bat well. He’s a real hitter, so he’s not the kind of guy that you’re consistently looking to try to get to the bottom of the order so you can walk somebody to get to him.”
Bumgarner is batting .182 with two homers and five RBIs in 44 at-bats this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.