Bochy changes tone, introduces Lincecum's leash

July 13, 2012, 3:37 am
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Less than a week ago, Bruce Bochy was asked if Tim Lincecum's Saturday start against the Houston Astros was in jeopardy.

No, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. No chance. Well throw him back out there.

Fast forward to Thursday, and while the plan is still for Lincecum to start Saturday, Bochy's message had a decidedly different tone.

Told that general manager Brian Sabean said on the radio that Lincecum's next start would likely be skipped if he turns in another lackluster performance in his second-half opener against the Astros on Saturday, Bochy confirmed the statement.

"Yeah," Bochy acknowledged. "I don't want to put added pressure on him, but sometimes you have to do what's right."

Lincecum closed the unofficial first half of the season with a stinker. His 3 13-inning, six-run meltdown against the Pirates last Sunday made Lincecum -- at 3-10 -- the Giants' first double-digit loser at the break since Barry Zito in 2008.

It also raised his season ERA to 6.42, which is the highest among all 101 qualifying major league starters.

Based on his comments after his most recent loss, it's clear Lincecum is not comfortable. "Its been terrible and its a terrible feeling youre letting your team down. Thats the hardest thing.

"But it seems everybody else is doing their job and were playing good ball. To be the weaker link ... it wears on you."

His manager, while acknowledging that the team is fitting their right-hander with a collar and leash, has not lost faith.

"I said this in Pittsburgh, I think Timmy's going to bounce back and have a better second half," Bochy said. "We certainly need him."

Over his first six seasons, the first and second half haven't been too different for the two-time Cy Young Award winner. He owns a 44-27 mark and 3.50 ERA in the first half, and a 28-24 record and 2.94 ERA in the second half.

"Hopefully he'll go out there and throw the ball the way can," Bochy said. "I look forward to seeing him pitch Saturday."

The entire baseball world does.

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