While teams across Major League Baseball are opening their minds to more creative approaches to the game, one of the league’s best pitchers is resisting the increasingly popular opener strategy.
During a FanFest Q&A on Saturday, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said franchise ace and fan favorite Madison Bumgarner texted him during the Winter Meetings and expressed his displeasure after learning the Giants were considering using the opener strategy. The approach sees a team use relief pitchers for an inning or two to start the game before bringing in another reliever or the traditional starter.
“If you’re using an opener in my game, I’m walking right out of the ballpark,” Bumgarner said to his manager.
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Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he thinks “there are times where (using an opener) presents a real strategic advantage.
“I can just say that when the opposition is thinking about using an opener, it makes your life harder. Our goal as a team should be to make life as difficult as possible for our opposition.”
Bumgarner, who has started 252 regular-season games in his career, shouldn’t be too worried, though. Bochy in December said Bumgarner would most likely be an outlier when it comes to the opener strategy and that he “might pinch-hit him first.”