SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Dave Righetti must care a lot abouthis pitching staff. He lays awake at night thinking about them.
The Giants longtime pitching coach sent a text messageto Tim Lincecum at 12:34 a.m. Wednesday night, letting him know of a change inplans for his next start. Instead of facing the Colorado Rockies at Salt RiverFields Thursday night, Lincecum threw 91 pitches in a Single-A game at theGiants minor league complex.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner worked on his fastballcommand and pitched into the sixth inning while giving up four runs at IndianSchool Park. The change of plans was designed to give him a controlledenvironment to build his pitch count and also avoid facing the Rockies, whomhell face in his second start of the regular season.
It didnt seem fair when Lincecum threw one of his lethalchangeups to dust off an Angels minor leaguer with No. 0 on his jersey.
I know theyre not going to feel bad if they get a hitoff of me, so I dont feel bad either, a smiling Lincecum said. Its adifferent kind of atmosphere. You kind of get back to the roots, when you weregrowing up and you just came out and played for fun and the love of the game.Not that its any different now, but its just a different atmosphere and I hada lot of fun with it.
The ticket holders for Thursday nights exhibitionprobably have a different view. Theyll watch left-hander Brian Burres insteadof Lincecum.
Lincecum said his fastball command wasnt where he wantsit; too many pitches were at the belt instead of the knees. But hes confidenthis curveball and changeup are ready for April 6, when hell start on openingday at Arizonas Chase Field.
Its Lincecums fourth Opening Day assignment. This onecomes against the defending NL West champions the team that beat him in hisfinal regular-season start in September to leave him with a 13-14 record.
Lincecum said he still gets pumped up for the Opening Dayhonor, especially this time.
Its going to be a big game because weve got a little bitof a remembrance of where we were last year, and they were able to celebrate infront of us, Lincecum said. So Im sure a lot of people are itching to getback out there and go start the battle over again. Hopefully itll be in ourfavor this time.
Will Lincecum watch the banner-raising ceremony?
Uhhmmm, he said, Im indifferent to it.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy denied that he and Righettiwere playing keepaway from the Rockies. But Lincecum said he preferred not toface them.
You try to avoid that right before the season so guysdont get a knack for you and you dont get stupid things going through yourhead, he said.
Like are these guys on me? he said. You questionyourself sometimes in the spring. The first outing I had against them wasabsolutely terrible. Its a new slate when the season starts. Its easier to dothat when I dont have to face them right before the season.