Left arm up in a sling, Madison Bumgarner took some time before Friday’s game to tell a sea of cameras and reporters, in very vague terms, what happened that fateful off-day he sprained his throwing shoulder.
Bumgarner was with two family members just a few hours outside Denver and, “in a freak deal,” fell off a rented dirt bike — a mode of transportation Bumgarner said he has been riding since childhood.
He and his family members were almost back from the trip when he just lost control, he said:
“I wish I had some cool story for you, but it wasn’t spectacular. Just unfortunate.”
“I really wasn’t going that fast. It surprised me, too.”
Bumgarner had just gone through a series of tests Monday afternoon, but an MRI wasn’t planned until later Monday evening, according to Dave Groeschner. There are no updates on Bumgarner’s timetable for return, but Bumgarner and Groeschner were confident in saying that surgery is not necessary.
Right now, treatment is just “a lot of rest and ice,” according to Bumgarner. Conversations with doctors have given Bumgarner confidence that there is no structural damage to his shoulder.
He looked chipper, though, and expressed that his shoulder felt better and better each day, something that surprised him given teammate tales of sprained ligaments past. Above all, though, Bumgarner seemed remorseful:
“It’s terrible. These were not my intentions. I wanted to enjoy the off-day, but I realize that wasn’t responsible.”
Per the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), players are forbidden from involving themselves in activities that could “impair or destroy” his ability to compete on the diamond: “any other sport involving a substantial risk of personal injury.”
It was this fear that caused the Giants to add a stipulation in Barry Zito’s monster deal that prevented the Southern California kid from surfing during the season. But the club hasn’t informed him of any further punishment, nor does that seem to be the concern now. Manager Bruce Bochy knows Bumgarner’s lifestyle: he rides horses, chops wood … he’s country:
“You still gotta be who you are, you still gotta do things you enjoy. I get it.”
Sure, dirt biking doesn’t sound like the smartest activity to do during the season — and Bumgarner was on his way to one of his best despite losing his first three decisions (3.00 ERA, 28 strikeouts, one complete game). But Jeremy Affeldt injured himself playing with his children. Matt Cain hurt his finger making a sandwich. Accidents happen.
Jeff Kent missed Opening Day 2002 after wrecking his motorcycle while doing a wheelie. Players make dumb choices that sometimes catch up with them, too, said Bumgarner:
“That’s probably not the first time I made a stupid decision.”
The team is still trying to determine out how serious the injury is. Groeschner said they still aren’t sure if it is a grade 1 or 2 sprain, and the difference in recovery time is only a matter of a week or two. Said Bumgarner:
“Focus right now is to bust my butt in rehab.”