Bumgarner takes first step toward opening assignment

Bumgarner takes first step toward opening assignment

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The motion still began with a deliberate swivel, the left arm still whipped across with power and grace, and the pitch still frustrated the hitters.

Madison Bumgarner was back on the mound, looking as effective as ever.

That was reassuring for the Giants, who will christen the 2014 regular season with Bumgarner facing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bumgarner worked two shutout innings in his Cactus League debut Friday as San Francisco outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3.

"I feel pretty good about where I am right now," Bumgarner said after yielding one hit and striking out two. "Not a whole lot to fine tune."

Nevertheless, Bumgarner will accept every possible opportunity to hone his game before that March 31 Opening Night assignment.

"I feel like every year it kind of takes you the full spring to get to where you want to be, at least for me, anyway," Bumgarner said. "You can do all the bullpens you want -- I don't throw a whole lot before spring -- and you can throw to all the hitters you want [in batting practice], but there's nothing like throwing in a [spring] game. And even that's not like throwing in the regular season. But it's as close as you're gonna get."

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.