Bumgarner faces Pence, Sanchez in first BP

Giants ace 'got better' since last season, says backup catcher

Bumgarner faces Pence, Sanchez in first BP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Looking as powerful as ever, Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' 2014 postseason hero, threw his first round of live batting practice this spring on Thursday.

Occasionally grunting from the effort as he released a pitch, Bumgarner missed the catcher's target more often than he ordinarily might. But neither Hunter Pence nor Hector Sanchez, who faced Bumgarner, made solid contact.

Asked if Bumgarner had changed in any way since last season, Sanchez said of the left-handed ace, "He got better."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy continued to reject the notion that Bumgarner's 270-inning accumulation last year, which included a record 52 2/3 postseason innings, ultimately will weaken him this season.

"This guy takes such good care of himself," Bochy said. "Same delivery, looks great. We never had any concerns with him, trust me. Why would we?"

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.