DENVER -- Losing the fifth-starter competition in Spring Training could have been one of the best things to happen to Madison Bumgarner.
Beginning the season with Triple-A Fresno instead of the Giants enabled Bumgarner to learn a new pitch: a slider, which he began throwing about a month into the season. Bumgarner picked it up from Horacio Ramirez, a fellow Fresno starter with big league experience, and refined it with help from Grizzlies pitching coach Pat Rice.
"It turned out to be a pretty good pitch for me," said Bumgarner, who lost his first two starts with the Giants but showed promise by lasting seven innings in each. "It's my best offspeed pitch now. That's one reason I'm glad I got sent to Triple-A. Some good things came out of it."
Buster Posey, who has caught Bumgarner with the Giants and Fresno, noticed the slider's effect.
"He's already got a fastball that's tough for people to pick up," Posey said, "so when you have to respect the breaking ball, too, it makes the fastball even better."