Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters

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Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecum is known for his huge stride off the mound. He nearly set a long-jump record as he took the field Saturday afternoon.My adrenaline was kind of going, said Lincecum, who threw two innings in the Giants Cactus League opener. The first inning, I felt a little more erratic. I almost jumped from the grass cut to the mound.Thats what facing the Arizona Diamondbacks will do. Lincecum allowed a run on three hits in the first inning, but controlled his emotions and his fastball better in the second inning. He threw 21 of his 33 pitches for strikes, generated more than a half-dozen whiffs on his changeup and said his lower back was a non-issue.
He made his statement to the first batter, striking out Ryan Roberts on three pitches.Yeah definitely, I kind of surprised myself there that first batter, Lincecum said. Obviously, the first game, against an NL West rival, my adrenaline was kind of going. I was able to collect my nerves that second inning, calm down and be able to throw a little more collectively.Lincecums fastball was just 89-90 mph, but he said he wasnt concerned.For me I felt the ball was coming out fine, he said. Swings on the changeups were an inclination there must be some offset (from the fastball). So thats good.Lincecum threw only fastball-change. He said hed work on flat ground to find the same release point with his slider and curveball before he starts to incorporate them in his next outing.My whole idea behind fastball-changeup is these are pitches you have to get out in front and you have to get extension, Lincecum said. For me, curveball-slider are pitches you have to pull more into your body. Youve got to make them break. So Im trying to work backwards and make it easier on myself.Its always easier to execute when youre calm. But Lincecum hasnt forgotten how he lost control in his final regular-season start at Arizona last September a loss that left his record at 13-14. He also hasnt forgotten that hell get the NL West-champion Diamondbacks again on Opening Day, April 6 at Chase Field.Lincecum was scheduled for one inning Saturday but said he was told hed operate with a 40-pitch limit. So he welcomed the chance to sit down and throw another inning.You see them too many times before the season starts and the scouting report can be too vast, said Lincecum, who struck out two and didnt walk a batter. Its nice to give them a little bit of a taste and not a whole bunch. Two innings were good. Im glad to get that out of the way.He also got the Justin Upton confrontation out of the way. Lincecum was distressed last September when he threw a pitch that struck Upton on the helmet, knocking out Arizonas best hitter for a few days. Upton managed a single in the first inning.You can ask him, but I was wondering if there were any thoughts going through in his head about if one is let go accidentally, Lincecum said. When I was out there I wasnt making a conscious effort not to throw at his head. It was just, Try not to worry about what happened. Try to go out there and have fun and not think about that incident and just worry about now.Lincecums new outfield had a busy day. Center fielder Angel Pagan overran Uptons single, making an error on his first chance as a Giant. But left fielder Melky Cabrera showed off a strong arm, throwing out Upton trying to score from second base on Miguel Monteros single.Oh God, Lincecum said. I didnt think hed crow hop and throw him out. Im running to back up home plate and the ball already was there. I thought, 'Hey, thats one less out Ive got to get.'That thought didnt go through Lincecums mind when catcher Chris Stewart caught a foul pop to end the inning. Lincecum, thinking there were two outs, called for the ball.I got caught up, Lincecum said. You can obviously tell where my head is.Better than in a regular-season game, right?Or the first game of the World Series, replied Lincecum, in reference to his infamously self-described brain fart in 2010, when he ran Texas Michael Young back to third base without realizing it wasnt a force play.He can laugh about that now.Hindsight makes it a little easier, Lincecum said.

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

Otani to MLB after 2017 season? 'We discussed the possibility'

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to the major leagues after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who has also put up big numbers at the plate, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

He says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

New rules in MLB's collective bargaining agreement make it more difficult for players like Otani to get paid big bucks right away. But there is a definite curiosity about his abilities, even from those who haven't seen him play much.

"I don't know which side you're worried about more: his ability to pitch or hit," former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Hopefully he stays healthy because he's an addition whatever league he winds up with, whether he stays in Japan or comes to the U.S. he's certainly going to be an exciting player for people to look forward to watching."

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was reluctant to talk about Otani because he's under contract in Japan. But he's intrigued about Otani's ability to pitch and hit.

"We have reports on him," Dombrowski said. "Do I think a player could be a two-way player? Yeah, it could happen. It is very difficult? Yes. But I'm not saying that there's not a player out there that can't do that because some of them are rare, rare guys. Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. So it can be done."

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

Report: Giants 'among teams that have asked' about lefty reliever Howell

The Giants added a huge piece to their bullpen Monday by signing closer Mark Melancon to a four-year deal. While much of the bullpen is complete, San Francisco's front office is reportedly keeping an open mind with a familiar reliever. 

San Francisco has reportedly asked about lefty reliever J.P. Howell, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Howell, who turns 34 in April, spent the last four seasons as a Giants rival with the Dodgers.

Last season coming out of the Dodgers' bullpen, Howell tossed 50.2 innings pitched and ended with a 1-1 record and 4.09 ERA. The year before, Howell posted a career-low 1.43 ERA. 

In just 13 appearances out of the bullpen -- 10.2 innings pitched -- Howell has struggled in his career at AT&T Park. The lefty has a 6.75 ERA in San Francisco, to go along with an 0-1 record. 

As a whole, the Giants' bullpen finished the 2016 regular season with a 25-24 record. The group's 3.65 ERA ranked ninth in the National League. 

Howell is seeking a one-year deal, according to Olney.