Lincecum ready for spring opener -- and Twitter

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Lincecum ready for spring opener -- and Twitter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum threw an extended bullpen session and said he feels good about his progress ahead of Saturday's exhibition opener. He'll start the game against Arizona and is likely to pitch just one inning.

He's about to make short work of social media, too.

Lincecum's brand new Twitter account (@TimLincecum) went live Thursday afternoon. His first message was to Clint Dempsey and U.S. Soccer:

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Tim Lincecum @clint_dempsey @ussoccer just want to say congrats to you and the team on a great job and making the US proud, so pumped for you guys
Mar 01 via UberSocial for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

Yes, it really was Lincecum. He called his agent, Rick Thurman, after the U.S. upset Italy Wednesday -- their first victory over the soccer-mad nation in 78 years.

"That's what inspired him to Tweet," said Paul Kuo, director of public relations for the Beverly Hills Sports Council. "He asked us to help him set up an account and he told us he wants to do it. He doesn't want us to handle it.

"It's real, it's him and it's going to be him."

Other than a few commercial endorsements, Lincecum hasn't sought attention ever since establishing himself as a superstar with his consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2008-09. He values his privacy away from the ballpark and disappears in the offseason. So the foray into Twitter is surprising, indeed.

"As you know, he's a big soccer fan," Kuo said. "He wanted to send the message right away, and the folks at Twitter were a great help in expediting that all-important, much requested verification."

Yep. Timmy got his blue checkmark. He also received a brief response -- "Thanks!" -- from U.S. Soccer.

After Lincecum's agency sent out a welcome message via its own Twitter account, Major League Baseball and other major media outlets spread the message with their own Tweets. The result: Lincecum generated over 9,000 followers in the first hour of the account's existence. He's got a ways to go before he catches closer Brian Wilson (@BrianWilson38), who has more than 475,000 followers even though he's become an infrequent Tweeter.

Kuo said he wasn't sure what Lincecum had planned for his Twitter account, but he hoped fans would enjoy hearing directly from the Giants' four-time All-Star.

"We all know social media is becoming more prevalent," Kuo said. "He already had a Facebook page with news and updates, but Twitter seems to be much more personal."

Other Giants on Twitter include Jeremy Affeldt (@JeremyAffeldt), Brandon Crawford (@BCraw35), Sergio Romo (@SergioRomo54), Pablo Sandoval (@KFP48), Brett Pill (@BrettPill6), Melky Cabrera (@MCabrera53) and Eric Surkamp (@ESurkamp). Buster Posey (@BusterPosey) joined Twitter over the winter, but most of his messages thus far appear to be written by his agency.

When Lincecum wasn't typing 140 characters on Thursday, he threw an extended bullpen session that included a sit-down break to simulate throwing multiple innings. He said he felt no difference after the rest, although his fastball is still riding up in the zone.

"My two-seamers were up," said Lincecum, who threw several other sinkers that appeared to have plenty of cut and lateral movement. "I've been getting on top of it a little more. ... This one had more of a game feel to it. It felt good."

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).