Giants

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

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AP

Down on the Farm: When Lincecum looked like batboy, became Giant in San Jose

The last time Tim Lincecum pitched on a MLB mound was Aug. 5, 2016. Lincecum only lasted 3 1/3 innings in front of his hometown Seattle fans while doused in Angels red. The final image of Lincecum may be in an Angels jersey, but it's also with a Giants-orange glove on his left hand. 

If that is the last time Lincecum ever pitches again in the bigs, Aug. 5, 2016 will go down as a date many hope to forget as The Freak was a diminished version of himself. Remember the date, not so much the year. 

Exactly 10 years before that last pitch, Lincecum became Giant. Only two months after going No. 10 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft, Lincecum made his San Jose Giants debut on Aug. 5, 2006. He started the game against the Bakersfield Blaze and allowed two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings pitched while striking out five. 

Lincecum's stint in San Jose only lasted six games, including Game 1 of the playoffs. At 22 years old, Lincecum went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA, struck out 48 batters in 27.2 innings pitched, and held opposing hitters to a .135 batting average, which somehow is a career-high for his time in the minors with Giants affiliates.

Here's how Joe Ritzo, the voice of the San Jose Giants, remembers the time San Jose fans witnessed a sight unlike anything else with Lincecum.  

Q: What was your first impression of Lincecum in San Jose? 

A: Unique talent. Everyone knew he was a first-round draft pick and there was a lot of hype and a lot of high expectations for him when he joined us. He went out there and was just dominant from the very first start. He was just a fun guy to watch because he gave you such a different look out there as a smaller pitcher with an unusual motion and then the ball coming out at 95, 96 miles an hour with this big curve ball as well that hitters in the California League just couldn't touch. And he was going up against hitters in this league -- in many cases with two, three, four years of professional experience -- and Tim was playing college baseball two months earlier.

I thought he was the best pitcher in this league when he was there those final six or so weeks of the season. A lot of fun to watch. I think our fans here really looked forward to his starts because you had a pretty good idea he probably wasn't going to be in San Jose for too long. 

Q: Did he remind you anybody else or was he completely different? 

A: Oh no, I mean he was totally his own guy. He was a very unique pitcher and the way he operated out there with the motion that not a lot of people had seen before. It was like something I don't think anyone had ever really experienced that year in San Jose. 

I remember our manager back then, Lenn Sakata, saying that when he first saw Tim when he walked in he thought he was the batboy. It was just this little guy with this baby face. It was like, 'No, that's your new ace pitcher.' Then he went out there and was just spectacular and kind of made you sit up in your chair and go, 'Whoa! This guy could be sometin' special.'

Q: Was that your real first impression? Just how he looked so small, but was amazing on the mound. 

A: Yeah, I mean he looked like a kid out there. Like I said earlier, I think he was the best pitcher in the California League those final few weeks of the season and he was our Game 1 starter in the playoffs that September, and won that start. I think we all knew that he was gonna move quickly through the system with what we saw here in San Jose. 

Q: Is he the best pitcher you've ever seen at that level? 

A: I think he's the best pitcher I've seen here in San Jose. Madison Bumgarner was pretty spectacular as well, and like Tim, was only here for a short amount of time. But Tim, the stuff was just electric. And you had a feeling watching him, he could probably go up to the big leagues the next day and get people out.

He goes to Triple-A the next year, I think he was only there for a month, and then he's in the big leagues so that kind of turned out to be pretty true. A special talent. 

Q: With the Giants, what is your favorite Tim Lincecum memory? 

A: My favorite memory was how he pitched the final game of the World Series in 2010. I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up a Giants fan and I was a fan like anyone else that October and was all caught up in what was going on with that team and loving every minute of it. He was outstanding as everyone knows during that playoff run and it was fitting that he got a chance to be out there in what turned out to be the clinching game in Texas.

That I think was the moment for me that sticks with me after all these years with Tim Lincecum as a Giant. 

Q: Do you think we'll ever see someone else like a Tim Lincecum? 

A: I don't know. I don't know how you teach what he did. It clearly worked for him. I'm not sure if we'll ever see anything like that ever again. It was pretty incredible watching him here in San Jose because it was like a motion we've never seen. I think at that time, he wasn't really refined as the pitcher that he became at the major league level with changing speeds a lot, becoming more of a pitcher.

He was flat out overpowering in San Jose and they couldn't hit him here. I don't know if we'll ever see anything quite like that motion and the size, just the whole package he had back then. 

As Arroyo shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

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USATSI

As Arroyo shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a Houston Astros prospect named Dean Deetz, and in a way, Pablo Sandoval can thank him for his second shot with the Giants. 

Deetz drilled Christian Arroyo on July 1, halting the young third baseman’s bid to return to the Giants for the final two months. With Eduardo Nuñez traded to Boston and Arroyo recovering from minor hand surgery, the Giants turned to Sandoval, who has been a fixture in the middle of their lineup the last couple of weeks. Arroyo hoped to get some time at the hot corner in September, but on Thursday the Giants conceded that won’t happen. 

Arroyo will miss the rest of the regular season, team officials said. The hope is that he can get healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League and then potentially make up lost at-bats in a winter league.

Arroyo is either the organization’s best or second-best hitting prospect, depending on which list you look at. He hit .396 in Triple-A this season and then provided a momentary jolt after he forced his way into the big league lineup. Then the slump came, and overall Arroyo hit just .192 in 34 big league games. He was sent back to the minors and promptly was hit by a couple of pitches. 

It was a season with plenty of highs but a disappointing ending, but Arroyo is still just 22 and looks to be a big part of the future. Has he done enough to go into next spring with a firm grip on a job? 

“I’ll have to answer that later on and see where we’re at,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday. “It’s all going to be competitive, that’s the way I look at it. You look at where we’ll finish, and not in the postseason, and you have to stay open-minded on everything.”

This could be setting up for a pretty intriguing spring battle. Arroyo and 23-year-old Ryder Jones were the internal candidates set for a competition, but Sandoval likely will be the everyday third baseman down the stretch. He has shown flashes of his old pre-Boston self and the Giants have been generally pleased with his play. Still, the results aren’t really there. 

Sandoval is hitting .200 since returning, with a .220 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. That's good for a .545 OPS, which is nearly 100 points below his OPS in Boston this season. The Red Sox, at some point, had seen enough.  

Bochy said he has taken positives away from Sandoval's energy and some of his bigger moments, particularly the upper-deck homer he hit off Max Scherzer over the weekend. That’s his only homer with the Giants so far, but it made an impression. 

“He’s got the bat speed,” Bochy said. “That’s one of the longest homers we’ve seen this year. That shows (the bat speed) is there.”

Jones has been a fixture as well, playing first base in place of Brandon Belt. He has looked much better the second time around, but his average is still below .200 and his OPS of .559 is just about equal to Sandoval's. The Giants have not seen enough from anyone to have a favorite to play third base next season, and Bochy said the same holds true at other positions. 

"We've got to stay open-minded about who is going to be where next year (and) playing time," he said. "It's up to us to adjust and get better."