EXTRA BAGGS: Posey doesn't mind abuse from Lincecum


EXTRA BAGGS: Posey doesn't mind abuse from Lincecum


SAN FRANCISCO Buster Posey absorbed a painful foul tip offhis right foot. He dived and shifted to keep balls in the dirt in front of him.One bounced up and hit him in the well, you know.

Posey formed a battery with Tim Lincecum for the first timesince June 16. And a battering is what he received.

How did he come through it?

Fine, Posey said. I told him he can beat me up as much ashe wants, as long as we get outs.

Said Lincecum: I know Im a little bit wild, effectivelywild at times. Ill throw balls in the dirt and he did a good job picking them.I know it can be rough catching me. Im not a paint-on-the-edge guy. Ill getyou to chase.

"He was out there with an open mind because of what wevebeen through. It was, 'Lets reconnect and get back to it.'"

Their connection has been questioned, if only because Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy curiously had Hector Sanchez or Eli Whiteside catch each ofLincecums seven previous starts. The right-hander was 2-8 with a 6.19 ERA,mostly working with Posey. He was 2-3 with a 5.26 ERA in the seven-start runwith Sanchez and Whiteside. No appreciable difference, really.

Bochy continued to insist that he got away from having Poseycatch Lincecum, in part, because of the physical toll it exacts to receive the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Its true: Sanchez took a beating almost every time hecaught Lincecum. And Posey definitely had a couple appendages to ice down after theGiants 4-1 victory over the New York Mets.

It was a good hurt.

Buster and I had a good connection there and a goodunderstanding of what we wanted to do with the hitters, Lincecum said. Westuck with that.

Bochy might not stick with the battery, though. It wasobvious why Posey had to catch Lincecum on Tuesday: It wasnt a day game aftera night game, the Giants were playing short without Angel Pagan or PabloSandoval to occupy the No. 5 spot and they needed all the offense they couldmuster to break a five-game losing streak.

(The Giants are back in first place by their lonesome, bythe way, after the Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks.)
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The next time, Sunday in Denver, Bochy might think more about preserving hisAll-Star catcher, who needs to be paced to avoid an overly cranky left ankle.

Hell catch him sometimes, said Bochy, who lauded Poseysgame-calling and ball-blocking skills. It depends on how he feels. I thoughtwe needed Buster out there and he did a great job. Its a situation when Busterneeds a break, someone else will catch (Lincecum).

What did Bochy see out of Lincecum, who threw his thirdquality start out of four?

I saw what we usually see, the manager said. He pitchedlike the Timmy that we know. He attacked the zone with all his pitches. Hewas under control, throwing quality strikes. He had great poise with the basesloaded, facing a quality hitter. Its hard to throw a better pitch than that.

That would be the 1-2 curveball that Lincecum spun to freezepinch hitter David Wright with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, endinghis night. As the sellout crowd met the moment with playoff-level intensity, itmight have been the most important pitch that Lincecum has thrown all season.

The crowd gave me an added edge there when they rose up to theirfeet and were loud as hell, Lincecum said. I knew I kind of wanted to go toit. Its one of those freeze pitches and I only threw a handful of them. It wasprobably my best one.

Is the whole Posey-Lincecum thing overblown? Possibly. But it was also significant to see them work so well together again. As the Giants go down the stretch and the big games become bigger games, and the bigger games become must-win games, the Giants won't be able to keep Posey on the catch three-of-five schedule. The crowds will be louder, the moments will become bigger -- and Lincecum will have to throw some more bases-loaded, 1-2 curveballs with conviction.

It was a good one," Posey said. "It was down in the zone. But what sets it up are the quality pitches he made inside.

And Posey was there to call them.

I believe in all my catchers that they can catch me,Lincecum said. And Buster, I think he handles me just fine. Obviously, right?

Angel Pagans left hand was wrapped and he said he learnedhis lesson after injuring himself while taking a frustration hack with a batMonday night.

Pagan had X-rays that did not reveal a fracture. Hes likelyto miss another game or two.

I made good contact, Pagan said, smiling. If you know theconsequences, you don't do it. I learned my lesson."

(Yes, its his left hand that he injured. Bochy originallyreported it was Pagans right hand.)

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."