Lincecum gives himself good marks after facing hitters

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Lincecum gives himself good marks after facing hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecums fastballs were up in thezone Monday, when he faced hitters for the first time this spring. But thatdidnt lower his spirits.He labeled his session "an 8.5" on a scale of 1 to 10 and saidhe plans to be ready to take the next step. Giants manager Bruce Bochy saidLincecum should be ready for the first game of the Cactus League exhibitionschedule on Saturday, although a final determination wont be made for anotherday or two.
Lincecum appears to have pushed past his mild back stiffnessthat slowed him earlier in camp.I wasnt as sharp as I was hoping and a lot of my fastballswere mid-thigh or higher, said Lincecum, who threw on a back field. I wasmissing up more than anything. But the changeup felt good. The rhythm feltgood.Lincecum didnt allow a ball to leave the infield as hefaced Conor Gillaspie, Justin Christian, minor league catcher Andrew Susac andoutfield prospect Francisco Peguero. Susac checked his swing a couple of times.That was fun, said Susac, who was drafted in June fromOregon State by way of Jesuit High near Sacramento. That changeup is one heckof a pitch.Susac said hes only faced one pitcher like Lincecum, andthat was UCLAs Trevor Bauer last Junes third overall pick by the ArizonaDiamondbacks. (Most members of Lincecum's hitting group actually said they were more uncomfortable against the next pitcher they faced, sidewinding left-hander Javier Lopez. Gillaspie shook his head after whiffing twice, but Christian managed to take him deep.)It was a good day for the rest of the rotation, too. MadisonBumgarner looked sharp and composed as he faced hitters; Ryan Vogelsong, whohas been slowed by a strained lower back, played catch with no problems andlikely will toss it around again Tuesday.Bochy didnt watch Lincecum. He was on the main fieldsurveying Bumgarner.Hes 22 years old and you can get amped with all these other young kids flyingout there, Bochy said. But he had good tempo, good pace. He knew what hewanted to work on out there. Its impressive for a young kid.None of the pitchers worked with Buster Posey on Monday. A day afterhe faced live batting practice for the first time, Posey was held out ofworkouts completely as a precaution. He said his left ankle was fine andconfided in Bochy that he felt strange about not taking the field.I said to Buster, Hey, thats the kind of country club wererunning here, Bochy said.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced. 

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed.