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.

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."