It’s spring, so time to ease back into baseball 

click to enlarge Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs in his spring training debut Tuesday against the A’s. - DARRON CUMMINGS/AP
  • Darron Cummings/AP
  • Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs in his spring training debut Tuesday against the A’s.
MESA, Ariz. — Winter hung in the air, one more brief shower for the Valley of the Sun. But on the field Tuesday unofficially it was spring, the Giants and the A’s in a game that while it didn’t mean anything, it conversely meant a great deal.

Ballplayers on the diamond, people in the stands, both delighted to be in the presence of the other.

“To get an ovation felt good,” said the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, who heard cheers when his name was announced.

To give one surely was just as satisfying.

It was the Cactus League opener for the rivals from the Bay Area, at Hohokam Stadium, abandoned by the Chicago Cubs, renovated and claimed by the A’s, as was the game, Oakland winning 9-4.

World Series champion?

“It’s a new season,” Giants ace Madison Bumgarner said. “We’re getting ready for 2015.”

And getting ready essentially is what spring training is about.

“I want to get guys out,” Bumgarner said, “but getting my arm in shape is the important thing.”

The World Series MVP, the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Bumgarner didn’t get many guys out. The second batter he faced, A’s shortstop Marcus Semien, hit a two-run homer.

“Buster [Posey] ruined his confidence,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy joked. Posey, who didn’t play Tuesday, doubled off Bumgarner a couple days ago in batting practice.

“You’re out there trying to locate pitches,” MadBum explained about his brief appearance.

What we’re trying to locate is our bearings. All those fans with the T-shirts celebrating San Francisco’s World Series triumph, among the many in the green-and-gold A’s paraphernalia, wanted to renew memories of 2014. But that was then.

This is now, with barren mountains poking up far behind the outfield fences. This is for a season yet to begin.

This is for Semien who went to St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley and Cal. Born in San Francisco, Semien grew up more a Giants fan than an A’s fan, although he went to games of both teams.

Obtained last winter from the Chicago White Sox, he powered a Bumgarner 0-2 pitch over the fence in left, then repeated with a homer off Cody Hall in the fifth.

“You just want to show what you can do,” Semien said.

Baseball is the sport honest enough to describe the games that don’t count as exhibitions. Well, they don’t count in the standings or the statistics, but they do as far as who finds a spot on the roster.

”They’re for evaluating,” Bochy said. “But there’s always competition. You like to win.”

Bochy watched his son, Brett, pitch a third of an inning, allowing a hit but no runs. Watched ambidextrous Patrick Venditte of the A’s throw right-handed to get the Giants’ Justin Maxell to ground out in the third and throw left-handed to strike out Brandon Belt in the fourth.

Watched a game that drew a less-than-capacity crowd of 7,820 saunter on for 3 hours, 12 minutes.

He also watched Lincecum give up a run in one inning and his ace, Bumgarner, give up four runs.

“A younger Bum would have been upset,” Bruce Bochy said, “but he knows he’s out there getting ready for the season.”

As are we all. Summer is coming.

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.

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Art Spander

Art Spander

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Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.bleacherreport.com. Email him at typoes@aol.com.
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