Bumgarner expecting to start Cactus opener

Lefty ace likely to get nod Friday; Cueto expected this weekend

Bumgarner expecting to start Cactus opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Madison Bumgarner is likely to start for the Giants in Friday's Cactus League opener against the Reds.

Or at least Bumgarner thinks he will. "I don't know for sure, but I think it's a pretty realistic option," he said after Tuesday's workout.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy refrained from echoing Bumgarner's sentiments. "We don't have [the pitching sequence] down," Bochy said.

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Nevertheless, a Bumgarner start to open the Cactus League wouldn't be a surprise. This would serve as a fitting prelude to the launch of the regular season against the D-backs on April 2, when Bumgarner is expected to start his fourth consecutive opener.

Also, the pitching combination the Giants hope to use frequently to their advantage this season highlighted Tuesday's workout, as Bumgarner and closer Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back.

At this stage of Spring Training, neither Bumgarner nor Melancon placed undue significance on their work. However, both looked smooth and ready for more.

"My command up in the [strike] zone was really pretty much right where I would want it to be," Bumgarner said. "When I tried to go down, I just wasn't quite getting it down as much as I would want. Instead of being [across the] knees, in that area, it was kind of mid-thigh, which is not really what you want during the season. Only other thing, my cutter wasn't quite there yet. It was pretty straight. But I'm not worried about that. It usually comes around pretty quick."

Melancon felt physically ready. "In years past, there's been some slowness and it takes me a long time, but I don't feel that this year," he said. "I feel like I'm right where I want to be in the sense of conditioning and strength."

Cueto to report soon: The Giants expect right-hander Johnny Cueto to report to camp sometime this weekend; he has been tending to his ailing father in the Dominican Republic.

Outlook: Cueto, SP, SF

Bochy said that Cueto, the Giants' leading winner in 2016 with an 18-5 record, was awaiting a visa so his father could accompany him to the States.

Cueto has tried to be diligent -- Bochy said he threw 45 pitches off a bullpen mound Tuesday -- but since the Dominican Republic is counting on him to help anchor its rotation for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, he must notify Dominican baseball officials regarding his fitness to participate "as soon as possible," Bochy said.

Mays visits team: The Giants are still the Giants, as was proven when one of their living legends, Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays, showed up to begin his annual visit.

Giants celebrate in clubhouse

Technically a special assistant to club president Larry Baer, Mays seemed animated as he chatted with passers-by. At one juncture, he was flanked by former teammates turned special assistants Joe Amalfitano and Felipe Alou. Mays used one of Amalfitano's bats to club four home runs at Milwaukee on April 30, 1961, while Mays and Alou started in the outfield together from 1958-63, though the latter was a part-time player for the first four years of that span.

Brown getting work at second: For the second day in a row, backup catcher Trevor Brown took practice grounders at second base, a position he played in the Minors. On Monday, Brown worked out at both second and shortstop.

Brown was accompanied Tuesday by retired All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent, who is in camp as a guest instructor. Coping with inconvenient height for a second baseman was among the topics they discussed; Kent stands 6-foot-1, Brown is 6-2. Many second basemen are of smaller stature.

Nick Hundley is the projected No. 2 catcher behind Buster Posey, but Brown can increase his value by broadening his versatility.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.