SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner returned to the mound for the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. The Giants' ace had been scratched from his start last Sunday but came back on-turn to face the Oakland A's. The main focus was just seeing him get in his pitches and get back in gear in time to be ready for the regular season, but Bumgarner took a beating from the A's in a 9-1 loss, getting touched for seven hits and five runs allowed among the 16 batters faced, including a third-inning home run allowed to DH Billy Butler before leaving with two outs.
"It felt even better than I expected," Bumgarner said after resting his aches and pains last weekend. "It felt really good, really, really close to normal. The pain level wasn't much."
That said, Bumgarner was frank about what he didn't like from his return, observing, "My delivery was terrible. It's not quite where I want it, but it's not too far off either. Timing's a little off and the rhythm, opening up a little too soon, which probably plays a big part in the timing and the rhythm also. Ideally, it'll be a pretty easy fix."
"He looked fine; command wasn't really sharp," manager Bruce Bochy observed with his usual brevity. "But he got his work in, 57 pitches I think, and then he threw some more in the bullpen. It was a good workload."
Thinking back on previous stretches when he'd struggled with his delivery earlier in his career, Bumgarner suggested that experience gives him the benefit of diagnosing what's amiss as quickly as he did Saturday.
"Back then, it took me a lot longer to realize what it was [off]," Bumgarner said. "That was the biggest thing. It'd probably take a little longer to fix, too. But I've put so much work into my delivery ... it's frustrating that it even happened. I think about my delivery every time I go out there. I'm not one of the guys who just throws all the stuff that I've been working on the side when I get there just worrying about getting outs. I just want to make that right in the game, too. I feel it makes you from getting into bad habits."
Asked about the effectiveness of his cutter -- a key swing-and-miss pitch for him -- Bumgarner offered a positive takeaway, saying, "They were definitely better. It wasn't quite right, but flying open makes it tough to make good pitches, to have the form to be as sharp and crisp as I want them."
Reviewing the injuries, a neuroma in his left foot and ribcage discomfort -- Bumgarner said that he anticipates continued regular treatment on both of his injuries into the future, noting, "We'll probably do it every day until it's been completely gone for a long time, just to be completely sure."
Bumgarner also didn't bat in Saturday's game, as Bochy scratched him and utilized the DH as a precaution. But the manager says Bumgarner will return to the cage later in the next week.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.