SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner didn't mean to have such an exaggerated turn in his windup last year, but as the season wore on and Bumgarner wore down a bit, he started to twist more and more with every outing.
"Before I knew it, I was spinning around like (Hideo) Nomo," he said, referencing the unique style of the former Japanese ace.
An offseason of work reset Bumgarner's mechanics, and it was clear in his spring debut Monday that Bumgarner is back to his old self after a shaky postseason. Catcher Buster Posey said Bumgarner's stuff was sharp in two innings against the visiting Chicago White Sox and said Bumgarner looks poised to be more consistent to both sides of the plate.
The outing was Bumgarner's first since seven spectacular innings in Game 2 of the World Series. Before that outing, Bumgarner shortened his delivery, fixing one of the mechanical flaws that had led to him giving up 10 earned runs in his first two postseason starts.
"This is the way I've always thrown," he said. "I'm feeling a lot better now."
The word "always" remains a relative one coming from Bumgarner. Even after 84 big league starts, 36 wins and two World Series titles, the 23-year-old Bumgarner remains the second-youngest of the 37 pitchers in camp. (Only 20-year-old Edwin Escobar is younger.) As he prepares for a second title defense, Bumgarner said he still has subtle adjustments to make.
He would like to improve his command on fastballs away and find more consistency with his changeup and curveball. Bumgarner also would like to improve his efficiency in holding runners after 27 of 37 attempted base stealers reached safely against him last season. No left-handed pitcher in baseball allowed more stolen bases.
"My time from the mound to the plate was so slow," he said. "I didn't give Buster a shot. I'll work on that."
Posey said Bumgarner is still hiding the ball well from hitters, and he believes that the young left-hander can get back to deceiving runners as well.
"I've caught him before where he's had a really good move to first," Posey said. "Maybe with less of a turn, we'll get some of the old move back. He's pretty deceptive to the runner when he's right."
"You're nervous for him, and that probably goes with being a dad," Bruce said. "I put him in a tough spot but he's a tough kid. He'll be fine."
Brett said he felt nerves in his first outing of the spring. After the homer, he recovered to get a strikeout and groundout and get out of the inning.
"Once I'm out there, the focus is on pitching," he said when asked about his father handing him the ball. "Being the first time, I noticed it, but once I toed the rubber, it's just like any other game."