Programming note: For all the day’s sports news, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight and every night at 6, 10:30 p.m. and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants rotation was so close to making it through the spring without an injury scare.
Then came the fourth inning Friday night, and a vicious line drive off Daric Barton’s bat. It struck Tim Lincecum on the lower left leg, and not only was the two-time Cy Young winner unable to throw another pitch, but he couldn’t walk off the field under his own power.
Lincecum put almost no weight on his left leg as trainers escorted him to the dugout. He was taken to a nearby hospital and was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after X-rays came back negative for a fracture.
The right-hander was supposed to make his season debut in Thursday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. That assignment is very much in doubt now.
Lincecum held the A’s to a run in four innings but was not sharp, issuing three walks and working deep counts. The A’s had the bases loaded in the fourth when Lincecum threw a first-pitch fastball that Barton shot back up the middle. Lincecum turned his back but the line drive appeared to strike the back of his left leg just below the knee. Catcher Buster Posey picked up the carom and threw for the out on a close play, ending the inning.
Lincecum got to his feet and took a few paces before falling back to the ground, where trainers attended to him briefly.
The Giants have long relievers Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff with the club, but neither are stretched out to make a start. Left-hander Edwin Escobar was supposed to replace Ryan Vogelsong in Saturday’s exhibition, which could be rained out in Oakland. The Giants could decide to hold back Escobar in case they need to purchase his contract. Or they could try to get through that last game in Arizona with Petit and Huff.
If the Giants could survive Lincecum’s first turn, they could go with a four-man rotation from that point until April 19, which would be 18 games into the season.
Lincecum allowed a home run to John Jaso but otherwise pitched out of trouble while allowing three hits and three walks. He struck out four.
It’s expected the Giants took Lincecum for X-rays. Check back for the latest or follow @CSNBaggs on Twitter. I'll pass on updates as soon as I get 'em.