SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco's sole remaining starter's slot crystallized a bit more on Tuesday when the Giants optioned phenom Madison Bumgarner to their minor-league camp, all but officially anointing veteran right-hander Todd Wellemeyer as the fifth starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.
Officially, right-hander Kevin Pucetas is still in the running for a starting job, but Wellemeyer's major-league resume appears to give him a clear edge.
"He's got the experience and he's done a great job this spring," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Wellemeyer. "We're very pleased with where we're at with Todd."
Bumgarner, just 20, debuted for the Giants last summer. The Giants' first-round pick in the 2007 draft arrived ahead of schedule, which probably served to raise expectations a bit too high for the kid this spring.
"We want him to work on some things," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Control the ball a little better. He's 20 years old. He's got a bright future. We think a lot of him."
Bumgarner had a 6.43 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, and had been expected to be sent to the minors. The only mild surprise was that it came with two weeks remaining in camp. The Giants thought Bumgarner was pressing too hard, and they wanted to remove the pressure and allow him to relax.
"We want him to work on his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "And with the way Wellemeyer is throwing the ball, it makes sense to let Madison go down and pitch."
The Giants signed Wellemeyer, 31, about a week before spring camp started. Their original idea was to use him as a long reliever, even though he spent much of the past two seasons starting in St. Louis. This spring, though, he's gone 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings pitched -- literally pitching his way into the rotation.
Sunblock Day? Just when you thought spring was here ... woke up to a hard rain in the desert. It was wet enough it forced the Giants to hit in the batting cages in Scottsdale and the White Sox to do the same in Glendale. Cloudy and mid-50s early morning, cloudy and low-to-mid-60s at game time.
Likes: Mets shortstop Jose Reyes back to baseball on Wednesday. At least, that's what the doctors are saying, and you can bet the happiest man in Port St. Lucie will be Reyes -- followed by Mets manager Jerry Manuel. ... Pablo Sandoval hitting for the Giants. He ripped a double into the right-center gap in a Cactus League game on Tuesday on a pitch practically at his shoe tops. ... Divorcing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in Bob Nightengale's USA Today piece Tuesday: "Tiger Woods was fantastic for me." ... As my friend Ed Price, who writes for AOL/Fanhouse, points out, there could be three opening day starters who didn't throw one pitch in 2009: Toronto's Shaun Marcum, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and Oakland's Ben Sheets. ... Quite a look for Giants closer Brian Wilson as he strolled into the clubhouse Tuesday morning wearing bright lavender pants, white sunglasses and a Mohawk. Newcomer Aubrey Huff couldn't help hooting. ... Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline remains terrific after all these years. ... I'm told Ghost Writer is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing it. ... The Cajun rib eye at Donovan's steakhouse. Talk about flavorful.
Dislikes: Nearing the end of spring training and no trips to Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico, the fabulous Phoenix restaurant that burned last summer.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It¹s not having what you want
"It¹s wanting what you¹ve got"
-- Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun