Giants alter rotation order, show faith in Lincecum

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Giants alter rotation order, show faith in Lincecum

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants understand they will sink or swim with Tim Lincecum in the second half. So they won't bother throwing him much rope after the All-Star break.

In an unmistakable show of faith, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that Lincecum will start the second game out of the break. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who will have the longest layoff among the starters, will pitch Friday's series opener against the Houston Astros. Lincecum will follow and Matt Cain, who is expected to pitch in the All-Star Game, will slot back into the rotation after that.

The coaching staff continued to debate which order to start Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong in Atlanta.

The alignment ensures that Lincecum will make his first start at home, and not in the sweltering heat at Turner Field. But Bochy said more went into the decision than that.

"He's still our guy," Bochy said of Lincecum, who is 3-9 and a 6.08 ERA that ranks 102nd out of 104 major league pitchers who qualify for the ERA title. "He and Matt and Bum, we want to get those guys out there as much as we can in the second half.

"Because we think he's going to have a better second half."

Lincecum is scheduled to pitch Sunday's series finale at Pittsburgh before he goes home to Seattle for the All-Star break. He'd get just one extra day beyond his usual rest. Bochy said he didn't see any point to push back Lincecum, adding that he didn't need to throw any more bullpen sessions.

"Really, Timmy has thrown well in his 'pens," Bochy said.

The manager said Lincecum was throwing better in his last start at Washington, even while giving up a career-high eight earned runs. Bochy chose to see that start as an anomaly because Lincecum "ran out of gas" in hot conditions.

His second start probably won't be in cool climes, though. It'll come at Philadelphia.

Should Lincecum see the alignment as a vote of confidence, especially among so many voices that the Giants should skip him or even pull him from the rotation?

"Really, if that's how he wants to take it, that's great," Bochy said. "But that's how we feel. We want to get him back out there."

As for the final two spots, the obvious move would be to pitch Zito fourth to keep the left-handers split up. But Bochy said Zito and Bumgarner are sufficiently different pitchers so that might not be the way they decide to go.

Bochy added that none of the five starters needed extra rest or time to heal up.

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”