SACRAMENTO — As the Giants regrouped in the aftermath of Madison Bumgarner’s hand surgery, all signs pointed toward Ty Blach as the Opening Day starter.
Blach would square off against Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
Manager Bruce Bochy held off Saturday on announcing his official pitching plans, instead focusing on the morning surgery that put three pins in Bumgarner’s famous left hand. The operation, performed by Donald Sheridan in Arizona, stabilized a displaced fracture in the pitcher’s fifth metacarpal.
Bochy said his “educated guess” is that Bumgarner will be out until early June.
“It’s as disappointing for him as it is for us,” Bochy said before the Giants played the Sacramento River Cats at Raley Field. “For the six weeks we were there in spring training, he looked as good as I’ve seen. And that’s saying a lot. He was really locked in with his delivery. He was throwing the ball beautifully. That’s what makes me sick about this.”
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The four-time All-Star sustained the fracture Friday in his final spring start. Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals hit a line drive off the left-hander’s non-glove hand in the third inning.
“I didn’t even want to go out there. I just said, ‘Please don’t let it be his hand.’ I was hoping it hit the glove,” Bochy said.
The Giants are already without Jeff Samardzija, who has a strained pectoral muscle and will be out 3-4 weeks.
With rotation in a state of upheaval, and with no apparent trades imminent, the Giants will have to get creative. They will throw Johnny Cueto (Sunday), Derek Holland (Monday) and Chris Stratton (Tuesday) against the A’s in the Bay Bridge Series.
That sets up Blach, 27, for the season-opener. The right-hander went 8-12 with a 4.78 ERA in 163 2/3 innings for the Giants last year.
Bochy said the Giants will not need a fifth starter until April 10. In the meantime, players such as outfielder Hunter Pence will try to do their best to cope with life without Bumgarner.
“That’s a tough blow — you’re talking about one of the best players in the game today, when he’s healthy,” Pence said. “These things happen. It could have been a lot worse. We’ll be getting him back this season, and that’s exciting.”