Giants notes: Lincecum's playoff catcher undecided, etc.

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Giants notes: Lincecum's playoff catcher undecided, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO In the words of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, youllprobably see some tweaking here real soon as he aligns his rotation for thepostseason.

But Bochy doesnt plan to coast over these final nine games.He penned a regular lineup for Tuesdays series opener against the ArizonaDiamondbacks and said the starters would play the entire game, as long as thescore doesnt get out of hand.
LINEUP: Posey at first for another Lincecum start

It is back to business, said Bochy, who still has Matt Cain and Barry Zito listed to start the last two games of this series. We will be playingthe game the way it should be played.

Hector Sanchez, not Buster Posey, is catching Tim Lincecum.But Bochy wasnt ready to answer whether that meant Sanchez would catchLincecum in the postseason.

I think (Lincecums) next start will tell you which waywell go there, said Bochy, adding that he hasnt ruled out pairing Posey withLincecum again.

The Giants are expected to start Cain, MadisonBumgarner and Lincecum in the first three games of an NL Division Series, withthe order somewhat dependent on opponent and more so whether Bochys club opensat home or on the road.

Bochy did not rule out using just three starters, but thatsituation likely would happen only if the Giants are down 2-1 and faceelimination in Game 4. A better bet is having either Barry Zito or RyanVogelsong as the Game 4 starter; Bochy already said the plan is for bothpitchers to be on a playoff roster.

You look at all the starters and theyve all thrown verywell, Bochy said. We wouldnt be here without any of them. Its unique wehave five starters with double-digit wins.

The Giants also have to decide whether to carry 11 or 12pitchers. The Giants would be able to use their fifth starter as a long man,but they might prefer to keep an eighth reliever anyway because they are somatchup-dependent with a closer-by-committee approach. On the other side of thecoin, the team wants to carry Aubrey Huff as a bat off the bench -- and for allpractical purposes, he requires a pinch runner.

Huff could make some starts at first base down the stretchto gauge his running ability.

And what about the thought that the Giants (89-64) arebetter off in their current spot as the No. 3 seed, who opens the first roundwith two home games? Could it be a disadvantage to pass the WashingtonNationals (93-60) or Cincinnati Reds (92-61) in the victory column?

The top seed, after all, wont know where its going tostart an NL Division Series until the one-game wild card playoff game. Andalthough the top two seeds would play games 3-5 at home, theyd only beguaranteed one home playoff date.

Bochy said hes already spoken to some players and remindedthem that they are playing to win.

If it ends up that way, so be it, Bochy said. Theres no otherway to play the game. I cant say theres a preference. Weve got a pitchertrying to win a game and weve got fans watching. We still want to go out thereand play good baseball.

--
During the managers session, I made a joke that France, Bochysbirth country, is getting jobbed again in the World Baseball Classic. I didntrealize that France actually has a team that is trying to qualify for the WBCfor the first time. In fact, their pitching coach is 2003 Cy Young Award winnerEric Gagne.

And I didnt know that French officials asked if Bochysson, Brett, would be able to pitch in a bleu uniform.

Unfortunately, that wont happen. Brett Bochy was shut downas a precaution because of arm fatigue. The connection is tenuous, anyway.Bochy was born on an army base in France, left with his family in his infancy,and didnt return until he was in his 50s for a vacation.

He thought he found the village where he was born, Landes deBussac.

After we got back, I figured out we went to the wrongBussac, Bochy said.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.