SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner cruised through his second spring outing Tuesday, appearing not even to break a sweat on a sunny day at Salt River Fields. Afterward, Bumgarner said he would spend the next month working on what he's "not good at," in preparation for his first opening day start.
What exactly can the 24-year-old get better at?
"That's a good question," veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. "I don't think you can put a limit on him right now. It seems he can do whatever he wants to do. For him, that has to be exciting."
It's even more exciting for the Giants, who appear to have a left-handed ace capable of matching strides with reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Bumgarner was 12-7 with a 2.77 ERA in 2013, and for the fourth consecutive season he lowered his WHIP. The opposition hit .272 off Bumgarner during his rookie year, but he's chipped away at that number, too, lowering it to .203 in 2013.
The Giants think there's room for improvement, and Bumgarner is off to a good start. He threw three scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday and has given up just three hits in five innings this spring, walking none and striking out three.
Bumgarner was pleased with his command, but he's not the only Giants starter pounding the zone. Vogelsong followed with three strong innings, giving up a lone run on a single and double.
"It was good today," Vogelsong said. "The ball is doing what I want it to, pretty much."
In 14 innings this spring, Giants starters have given up one run on eight hits. They have walked just one.
"Usually early in camp and the first couple of games, the command is not where you want it," Vogelsong said. "I'd take one walk just by myself. You have to be excited about the way everybody is throwing."
Vogelsong has about a half-dozen opening day starts in the minors but never has gotten that call in the big leagues. Bumgarner will take the ball March 31 in Phoenix, and the Giants are excited to see where it all leads.
"He tinkers a lot because he always wants to get better," Vogelsong said. "He wants to do things different, and it's showing up."
Bumgarner is chasing the game's best left-hander, but the rivalry with the 25-year-old Kershaw is a friendly one. The two have developed a bond, one seen every time the Giants and Dodgers square off. Bumgarner and Kershaw are both famously hard workers and often cross paths hours before night games, when they tend to be two of the only players on the field.
Because the Dodgers open the season in Australia, Bumgarner and Kershaw are unlikely to face each other when the Giants visit Los Angeles in early April. Through three head-to-head meetings, Bumgarner has the edge, two to one. Few in baseball can match Kershaw, but the Giants feel Bumgarner is headed to that kind of success.
"It could be a pretty interesting matchup for a long time with those two," Vogelsong said.
With opening day starter Madison Bumgarner's three scoreless innings Tuesday, the Giants' likely starting rotation continued a solid spring training. Here's a look at their statistics:
Starter G IP ER H SO BB ERA
Madison Bumgarner 2 5.0 0 3 3 0 0.00
Ryan Vogelsong 2 5.0 1 4 2 0 1.80
Tim Hudson 1 2.0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Tim Lincecum 1 2.0 0 1 1 1 0.00
Matt Cain Scheduled for Wednesday debut