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.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.