Giants won't skip Lincecum's turn


Giants won't skip Lincecum's turn

SEATTLE -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean are considering many options to help Tim Lincecum reclaim his Cy Young form. Skipping his turn in the rotation isn't one of them.

Not yet, anyway.

Even though the Giants have lost nine consecutive Lincecum starts, Bochy said the right-hander would make his next turn Friday at Oakland. The team had the option of skipping him because his next day falls on an off-day Thursday, perhaps giving him an opportunity to step back and throw a few extra times off a bullpen mound andor get an inning out of the bullpen.

RELATED: Is it time to skip Lincecum's start?

But Lincecum wants the ball on his normal turn. And the Giants will give it to him.

"He's healthy. He feels good," Bochy said. "I know the results haven't been great for Timmy, but you just see too many good signs. Even after the first inning (Saturday), he had bad luck there.

"At this point we think the best thing is to let him fight through this. If we felt different, we'd do it."

Bochy said he was glad to hear Lincecum, after Saturday night's loss, tell reporters that he would fight to stay on his normal turn.

"Sure, sure, that's how you want these guys," Bochy said. "He's doing all he can to come out of this. He's taking it hard. At the same time, he hasn't lost any fight in him."

Bochy said he and Sabean would talk again prior to the game. Lincecum will get an extra day before Friday's start at Oakland, so perhaps he can throw a more extended bullpen session.

"All these things we talk about," Bochy said. "Any time a player is having a tough time, you look for ways that can benefit him the most. That's what we have to come up with."

Lincecum's issues have been most acute out of the stretch, which is particularly puzzling. In the past, Lincecum has pitched from the stretch with the bases empty because he has fewer moving parts and timing mechanisms than from the windup. But that adjustment only goes in one direction. It's not like he can just pitch from the windup with runners on base.

"You're right, exactly right," said Bochy, when told Lincecum usually used the stretch in the past to get back on line. "That's why this is a tough one for all of us, including him. The stuff was good. He was 92 mph into the fifth.

"What we've got to work on, and he knows it, is, Hey, you might give up a run, but let's control the situation.' It's human nature when you're accustomed to success to have self-doubt creep in there versus it's you that controls the situation."

Bochy said he's confident Lincecum won't stop looking for answers.

"He's come out of the stretch. He's gone to an over-the-head windup," Bochy said. "This is a guy who's tried a lot of things on the mound. He's resourceful when he needs to make an adjustment."

In other news, Bochy wanted to get a break for Ryan Theriot and he decided to go with Pablo Sandoval over Brandon Crawford in the No.2 spot. Buster Posey gets a quasi day off at DH. He recalled DHing once before in Toronto in 2010.

The Giants are 6-2 in rubber matches this season. They'll hope Madison Bumgarner can be on his game against Felix Hernandez.

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-Gyun Hwang’s day started with an ovation from teammates who had selected Hwang as the Barney Nugent Award winner. It ended in style, too. 

Hwang’s walk-off single in the ninth gave the Giants an 8-7 win and raised his spring average to .308. Barring an injury or sudden change, Hwang will not make the team out of camp, but he’ll travel to San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series next week and the Giants expect him back at AT&T Park soon.

“He can keep the award now,” Bochy joked after Hwang’s walk-off. “Good for him. Players love him, and the way he’s come out every day and the effort he puts in. He’s been inspiring with how hard he has gotten after it every day.”

The Barney Nugent Award is given to the player in his first big league camp “whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.” It is meaningful in large part because the voters are teammates, trainers and coaches. Hwang was called to the middle of the clubhouse by trainer Dave Groeschner on Saturday morning to accept the award. 

“With this being my first time coming to spring training to play baseball, I wanted to work hard and show that I belong here,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I think my teammates have noticed how hard I’ve worked for the team.”

The rest of the Giants have also noticed how easy Hwang has made the transition look. He said that, outside of learning a new strike zone, the adjustment hasn’t been a difficult one. He has four homers this spring, but doesn’t necessarily view that as a shining positive. Hwang said he wants to show more of an all-around game, especially on defense, and a stint in Triple-A Sacramento should provide that opportunity. 

If the rosters play out as expected, Hwang should see most of the time at third base in Triple-A. He can also play first, and he’s eager to show that he’s viable in left field. 

“I want to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. 

GAME RECAP: Chris Stratton was having a good spring, but he got knocked around by the Padres early … Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford both hit deep homers in their second game back from the WBC … Mark Melancon still has not allowed a run this spring … Hunter Pence's March slump got a bit deeper with an 0-for-3 ... Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, entered as a pinch-runner and flew home from first on a Gorkys Hernandez double off the wall. 

BULLPEN BATTLES: In the front office’s perfect world, Josh Osich would be the one to take over for Will Smith, giving the team a hard-throwing lefty capable of neutralizing lefties and righties. It’s been an up-and-down spring for Osich, but he was filthy Saturday, striking out a pair in his lone inning. 

George Kontos looked even better in his inning, striking out the side. Kontos has allowed just five hits in 10 innings this spring, with 15 strikeouts. He seems forever stuck in that sixth-seventh range, but given his splits have been just about even over the years, maybe it’s time the Giants see what he can do in a more high-profile role. 

Cory Gearrin followed the previous two with a perfect eighth. Neil Ramirez struck out one and allowed one hit in the ninth. In 9 1/3 innings this spring, Ramirez has struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and two runs. He has a real shot to take someone’s job in the bullpen next week. 

ICYMI: The big news from this morning: Michael Morse will stick with the team and try to rehab/play his way back to the big leagues. And from the early afternoon, Johnny Cueto had a ton of fun with a 19-year-old he faced in a minor league game. 

NOTABLE: Bochy said that all of the players left in camp are slated to head home on the team flight Tuesday, but some guys have opt-outs on March 30, so moves are coming. This would seem a great sign for Aaron Hill, who is due a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday. Hill has slumped late in camp, but he’s still in position to make the team. Also noteworthy: Tyler Beede is scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Oakland. The Giants surely want to knock some MLB-stadium-nerves off before Beede heads down to Triple-A to wait for a call-up.


Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."