Lincecum discusses life, not pitching, with his dad

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Lincecum discusses life, not pitching, with his dad

SEATTLE Tim Lincecum is on his home turf this weekend.Hell have to defend much more than that when he takes the mound Saturday.

And hes fully aware of it.

I need to make my stand, do something, show people Imstill worth keeping in a rotation, Lincecum said. So hopefully this is aspringboard. Right now, I feel good.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner and Seattle native, comes home on a careerlow. He
is 2-7 with a 6.00 ERA that ranks 119th out of 122 majorleague pitchers to make at least 10 starts. The Giants are 0-8 in his lasteight starts.

Its an odd moment for Lincecum to take the moundat Safeco Field for the first time. Will it be a net positive to be home? Orwill it be one more distraction he doesnt need?

PHOTO GALLERY: Giants-Seattle -- What to watch for

I feel like its tilting in my favor, said Lincecum, whowon the Golden Spikes Award when he led the nation in strikeouts at theUniversity of Washington. I dont feel its a negative at all. I feel likethis is a comfort zone for me.

Im a homebody. Im not saying this is where I need to beto pitch, but you can take a break from whats been going on, come back hereand get a different perspective on things. See family, see friends, and justkind of take the edge off, give yourself the benefit of the doubt the next timeout and just go out there with a level head. Im definitely looking forward toit.

Lincecum hopes to control more than a level head. Hes alsoworking to incorporate mechanical tweaks as suggested by pitching coach DaveRighetti, including quieting his hands and eliminating unnecessary movement.The changes are designed to give him more consistent command, especially of hisfastball.

Thats why I used to go to the stretch -- to have lessmoving parts, to simplify things, Lincecum said. Thats kind of the directionIm going in. You guys can see it. The repetition is not there. Ive got toget that muscle memory back where Im throwing everything out of the same slot.Thats what people used to say about me. It came out in the same slot, the samehand.

Lincecum said he is not soliciting pitching advice from hisfather, Chris, who had been his coach his whole life and worked to develop thegymnastic mechanics that allowed him to generate such power from his smallishframe.

I think our relationship more has become about life, saidLincecum, who spent Thursday night at home with his dad. Back in the day hewas my coach and teacher and getting me prepared for this life. Now Im on myown and hes had to let go the last couple years.

We talk to each other. Not as much as people would think,but were still as close as we could be. Thats the thing. Were so much alikethat we can butt heads on things. Were both stubborn and we know that. We canget to bickering and we know the cycle. We know how its gonna go.

It is great to see him. Last night when I went over Ialways manage to piss him off with a smart-ass comment I make or something whenits like, Hey arent you just like happy to see me? My dad takes it toanother level. Thats just our relationship.

And Righetti? Theres a fair amount of head-butting thatgoes on there, too, right?

Its a very similar relationship, Lincecum said. My dadsmy dad obviously and Rags is like a second cousin to him.

Lincecum had an enjoyable 28th birthday onFriday. A group of more than 100 Giants fans even sang Happy Birthday to himas the team stretched on the field. There were plenty of Beatlesesque shrieks,too.

Lincecum got to meet his newborn niece for the first time.He also got to sleep in his own bed; he owns a condo near downtown, where helives in the offseason.

Lincecum said he hasnt thrown off a mound at Safeco Fieldin his life, other than a bullpen session when the Giants played their lastinterleague series here in 2009. The Huskies never scrimmaged or played a gamehere when he was in college. Lincecum didnt participate in any predraftworkouts here, either.

The draft remains a sore spot for the locals, who haventforgotten that the Mariners then-GM Bill Bavasi and scouting director BobFontaine Jr. took Cal pitcher Brandon Morrow when Lincecum was still on theboard. The Giants grabbed Lincecum when he was available with the 10thoverall pick.

Lincecum said hes let go of any miffed feelings he mighthave had.

Not at all, he said. I mean, I was completely contentwhen it happened that day. I was on the golf course when it happened and thatwas one of the best days of my life.

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning. 

Giants celebrate Hwang homer in MLB debut: 'These are moments you love'

Giants celebrate Hwang homer in MLB debut: 'These are moments you love'

SAN FRANCISCO — Jae-gyun Hwang spent years dreaming of this day, of stepping onto the green grass in a big league stadium and then digging his cleats into the dirt alongside the plate. He never imagined hitting a homer in his debut, though, and he certainly never pictured what would come next. 

Hwang was pulled into the clubhouse shower a few minutes after a 5-3 sweep-clinching win over the Rockies and surrounded as teammates emptied cans of beer on their new third baseman and cheered so loud that they could be heard from the press conference room. There are many quirky traditions in the KBO, where Hwang was a superstar, but the list does not include beer showers. Any confusion didn’t last long. 

“We had his translator in there with him,” Nick Hundley said, smiling. “We said, this is what you get when you hit a homer in the big leagues.”

You get something else, too: Another day in the lineup. Bruce Bochy has a tongue-in-cheek rule that if you hit a homer, you play the next day. The Giants, however, expect to get starting third baseman Eduardo Nuñez back from the disabled list on Friday in Pittsburgh. What will Bochy do with a 29-year-old rookie who hit a 417-foot laser shot in his third MLB at-bat?

“I have a loophole,” Bochy said. “We’re off tomorrow.”

Bochy might not have to use the loophole. Austin Slater, the starting left fielder, was still feeling tightness in his right hip Wednesday and Nuñez could move over to left for a few days, allowing the Giants a longer look at Hwang. It’s an audition that seemed to never be coming as late as Tuesday morning. But Conor Gillaspie showed up with back spasms, and with Christian Arroyo on the minor league disabled list, Nuñez a few days away, and Aaron Hill recently released, the Giants turned to Hwang. 

It’s the kind of break that you need to make your mark, but you also need talent and confidence in your own abilities, and Hwang oozes both. 

The Giants had hit just 20 homers at AT&T Park this season when Hwang stepped to the plate in the sixth. Hundley’s was the third in the past 15 home games, and it helped them head into the late innings tied up with the Rockies. Hwang had earlier driven in a run with a groundout and in his third at-bat he started by taking two balls from lefty Kyle Freeland. 

“My focus is always the same: Hit in my zone,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “Because I’m a rookie, I figured once I got to a 2-0 count it might be a fastball down the middle, and that’s what happened.”

Hwang blasted it and briefly held his bat in the air, posing as the ball soared to the bleachers. He dramatically dropped the bat and started his first journey around the bases as the dugout exploded. 

“When it comes to bat flips, you don’t plan it,” Hwang said. “It comes naturally. I don’t know what I was thinking. It just happened.”

Hwang’s bat flips in South Korea were so legendary that YouTube videos made their way overseas. He had promised not to flip his bat in the big leagues, saying that he doesn’t want to get hit in retaliation. There are pitchers on Hwang’s own team who don’t approve of flips or drops, but his manager said he doesn’t care one bit. 

“I want these guys to be who they are and he’s just been a lot of fun to be around,” Bochy said. “He’s a great guy and he’s very popular in that clubhouse.”

Hwang’s work ethic this spring won teammates over, and he showed a willingness to jump right into the fray, whether he was making jokes or the butt of them. On St. Patrick’s Day, he entered Scottsdale Stadium with a green fedora and a green Tinker Bell shirt that read “I’m so fly … I never land.” Throughout the spring he handed out chocolate pies from boxes above his locker. During his time in Sacramento he regularly took teammates to Korean BBQ restaurants, where he was recognized as a celebrity. Hwang is so famous in his native country that multiple networks scrambled to air the Giants game at 4:45 a.m. Those in his hometown of Seoul either woke up to watch or woke up to celebrate. 

Thousands of miles away, Hwang focused on his new reality. As he packed to head to Pittsburgh, he exchanged a signed jersey for his first home run ball. The only No. 1 jersey Hwang had was the one on his back, so a fan walked away with an old Matt Duffy jersey instead. 

If Hwang can keep showing that power stroke, he’ll return in a week to a ballpark eager to cheer a new contributor. For now, the Giants are just happy to have another spark. 

“They were so excited for him and happy for him,” Bochy said. “They all know what he’s been through. He’s given up baseball in Korea to play here and he reaches his dream and hits a homer. It’s a special moment. These are moments you love.”