Bochy: It's time for Lincecum to be Lincecum

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Bochy: It's time for Lincecum to be Lincecum

LOS ANGELES Tim Lincecum has been asked to dissect countlesspoor starts this season, and many more that were below his previous standardsfor excellence.

Without fail, he has responded with placid earnestness.There has been no wide-eyed, sky is falling moments with reporters, like everyonesaw when he struggled in a winless August, 2010.

That is a good thing, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Hedoesnt want Lincecum panicking. But its also time for a sense of urgency. TheGiants absolutely need Lincecum to be nearer to his Cy Young form as hetakes the ball Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, with first place at stake.

Is it time for Timmy to be Timmy?

Yeah, I think it is, Bochy said of Lincecum, who is 6-12with a 5.45 ERA. Were getting to the back end of August here. Its going tobe important for Timmy and for us to get on track and pitches better and Illemphasize pitch. That gets away from him sometimes.

Theres no question Lincecum has had trouble minimizinginnings and making quality pitches in the lower portion of the strike zone. Andtheres no question he has had difficulty maintaining his stuff when hes taxedwith a 25-plus pitch inning in the early going.

Yet Lincecum also ranks third in the NL with 9.43 strikeoutsper nine innings.

Hes healthy and his stuff is good, Bochy said. But someof those games that get away from him he forgets to pitch. He knows how. Hesalways had the ability to adjust to a lineup or a team.

Lincecum has been better since the All-Star break. Hes 3-3with a 3.30 ERA with five quality starts among seven assignments. Yet hes alsocoming off a messy outing against Washington in which he threw 96 pitches injust four innings.

It doesnt take much, Bochy said. The plate is only 17inches (wide). Youre two or three inches off, and, well A lack of confidencecan cause that. And it doesnt matter how good you are. Occasionally, doubt cancreep in.

Lincecum is pitching 20 or so pounds lighter than a year ago, whichmight explain some of his stamina issues. But Bochy said he took no issue withthe right-handers preparation or attitude. It doesnt sound as if Lincecum hasbeen subject to any chew-out sessions, as in the past.

For the most part he has stayed positive, Bochy said. Hehasnt stopped believing, hasnt stopped working. In all those areas, hesdoing well.

Now the Giants need him to be good in the area that mattersmost -- that bump in the middle of the diamond.

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

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AP

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with three more veterans on Friday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Eduardo Nuñez, left-hander Will Smith and right-hander George Kontos.

Financial details were not immediately available. MLB Trade Rumors' projections put Nuñez at about $4.4 million, Smith at about $2.3 million, and Kontos at about $1.7 million. The Giants reached deals with all six arbitration eligible players this offseason. 

Nunez, acquired last summer, will enter camp as the starter at third base. He posted a .269/.327/.418 slash line and 12 stolen bases after coming over from the Twins.

Smith was also acquired before the trade deadline, and he had a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances for the Giants. He is expected to play a pivotal role in setting up for new closer Mark Melancon. 

Kontos has long been Bruce Bochy's most reliable reliever in the middle innings and he could move to a higher-leverage role in a revamped bullpen. He had a 2.53 ERA in 2016, his fifth season with the Giants.

The Giants had previously reached one-year deals with Cory Gearrin, Ehire Adrianza and Conor Gillaspie. They have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when a deal could not be reached with A.J. Pierzynski.