Lincecum refuses to be the wimpy kid against Phillies


Lincecum refuses to be the wimpy kid against Phillies


PHILADELPHIA This little corner of the baseball world offBroad Street has never been praised for its gentility, and Tim Lincecum knows it. There have beentaunts, wolf whistles and hurtful signs that scream, fix your teeth.

So when Tim Lincecum had his doh moment in the third inninghere, turning toward the dugout after recording only the second out, he couldhave flinched as the crowd rose up. He could have reacted like he was standingin the shadow of the playground bully.

He could have gone all wimpy.

Instead, this: I thought I could just laugh about it. Itwas a funny situation. They were kind of like all together, What the hell isthis guy doing? I was like, All right, Im a (freaking) idiot for a minute,lets go back to the mound.

Does that sound like a self-assured, assertive person? Doesit sound like someone who literally could fall down in mid-delivery for a balkthat brought in a run, as he did in the fourth inning, then bang out that embarrassment like it was a clod ofmud in his spikes?

Does it sound like the Lincecum, so comfortable in his skin,that the Giants once knew so well?

Thats what they got Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.Lincecum didnt post his most impressive linescore of 2012 but might have set aseason high for smarts, spirit and spunk in a 7-2 victory over the PhiladelphiaPhillies.

This time, he stayed out of the big inning. He didnt givein with a runner in scoring position in the fourth, issuing walks to HunterPence and Shane Victorino rather than lay one in there. He didnt fold from thestretch.

He was asked: Was that middle-in fastball to PlacidoPolanco, the one that resulted in an easy forceout for Pablo Sandoval, theturning-point pitch hes been missing?

Its not one pitch, he said. Its every pitch that leadsup to it. If not for my fastball command, guys might have been sitting on myoffspeed pitches and crushing it.

Lincecum was able to establish his fastball command early,which meant he had another route to take the next time through the lineup. ThePhillies couldnt eliminate pitches when they saw Lincecum for a second time.He had the upper hand, and the ability to make the next adjustment. And hestayed ahead of the game, as hes done so well over his career.

He got into a jam and thats the Timmy we know, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said. We saw it last year. We saw it again tonight.

I noticed that his last start. He had a different look.Hes pitching with confidence. He didnt get flustered by anything.

All of the sudden, the Giants have won in four of Lincecumslast six starts. That sounds relatively unremarkable for a two-time Cy YoungAward winner. But consider that the Giants had dropped nine in a row beforethat.

Im not saying it means Im back, said Lincecum, throwingout some air quotes. Im just trying to get that consistency and use that as aspringboard. Its just trying to buckle down in those crunch situations andnot worry about what bad can happen to me, which is what Ive been doing.

Weve mentioned several times where the Giants would be inthe standings if they were just a .500 team in Lincecums starts. This season,he might not win back those were going to win today feelings thataccompanied most of his starts in a Giants uniform. His struggles in the firstthree months were too shocking, too pronounced and too deep. There will be some shred of doubt for the rest of this season, at least.

But if the Giants can have a Lincecum who is able to laughat himself, who can make the competition be about those 60 feet, 6 inches insteadof the smaller space between his ears, and who can leave baserunners standing like 7-10 splits after he grinds through that third out, then that really does portend goodthings. The Giants really could get on quite a handsome roll.

In short order, they could become the bullies of the NL West.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.