Lincecum to begin in bullpen; no revisiting Melky decision

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Lincecum to begin in bullpen; no revisiting Melky decision

SAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum or Barry Zito?

That was the question on everyones mind, but Bruce Bochywasnt ready to announce a Game 4 starter ahead of Sundays NLCS opener againstthe St. Louis Cardinals.

The Giants manager did confirm that all five members of hisrotation would be on the series roster, however, and that both Lincecum andZito would lace up spikes in case theyre needed to pitch in relief during thefirst two games at AT&T Park.

More on that in a bit.

In other roster news, left-hander Jeremy Affeldt told Bochythat his jammed thumb had improved and there are no current plans to replacehim. The Giants could scale back to 11 pitchers, though, if they decide toreplace right-hander Guillermo Mota with a position player either pinch runnerFrancisco Peguero or catcher Eli Whiteside, whose presence would free up Bochyto use Hector Sanchez off the bench.

The Giants also could merely swap right-handers and stickJean Machi or Clay Hensley in Motas spot.

And what about Melky Cabrera, who has served all 50 games ofhis suspension? Was there any talk whatsoever about revisiting the decision tokeep him away from the team?

No, Bochy said. We crossed that bridge. Thats over.

Bochy pointed out that Gregor Blanco had a terrific series againstthe Cincinnati Reds, going 4 for 14 with a double, a home run, three runsscored and two RBIs. Bochy made it as clear as possible without issuing adictum: Blanco would be the everyday starter in left field. Not that there wasany doubt, since the Cardinals, like the Reds, will send all right-handedstarters against the Giants.

The roster is due at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Now back to the ZitoLincecum question:

Here was my thought: Keep Zito penciled in as the Game 4starter. That way, you reserve the right to use the Timmy tourniquet in reliefwhenever you need it. Having Lincecum in the bullpen gives Bochy a major trumpcard and itll give Cardinals manager Mike Matheny something toconsider as he makes his moves.

Besides, if Zito doesnt start, hes useless on the roster.And its not like the Giants have another difference-making arm that they wouldrelish putting in Zitos place. In terms of utility, this is the best way to line 'em up.

And yes, the Giants should be worried about needing Lincecum to cover innings. Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner averaged barely five innings while posting a 5.93 ERA in his last six starts, and then survived just 4 13 innings against the Reds in the NLDS. Game 2 starter Ryan Vogelsong, despite pitching brilliantly in Cincinnati, nearly reached 100 pitches in five innings against the Reds, too.

Now, if the Giants werent compelled to use Lincecum in thefirst three games behind Bumgarner, Vogelsong and Matt Cain, then they could revisit the Game 4 decision. Theyd have theflexibility to start either Zito or Lincecum, depending on where the series stands. And theydprobably turn to Timmy, since the Cardinals were 31-17 against left-handedstarters (.276 average, tops in NL) and 57-57 against right-handers (.270,second in NL).

I laid out my plan for Bochy and he said, Yeah, thats beendiscussed, sure. And thats why (Lincecum) will be available the first twogames.

Its about keeping all your options open. Managers like havingoptions.

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.