Lincecum's losses make future uncertain

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Lincecum's losses make future uncertain

PHOENIX -- Tim Lincecum was far from at his best in his final start of the season Sunday, and the Giants' offense did what it typically does when Lincecum is on the mound: virtually nothing.The Diamondbacks closed out a three-game sweep of the defending champs with a 5-2 victory, and Lincecum ends his year on a losing note.
Can you blame the guy for not wanting to sign a long-term deal?The man threw more than 200 innings, struck out more than 220 hitters and posted a 2.74 ERA. That's a career year for most pitchers.For Lincecum, it was the first losing season of his career, 13-14.

Ten times the Giants didn't score behind him. Three runs was an explosion. The lack of run support he received was ridiculous.And it's not like this year was an anomaly. Lincecum has been pitching without a safety net for most of his career. It's impossible to explain, but the Giants just don't get it done at the plate when he's on the mound.With decent run support, he could have won between 17 and 20 games this year. The offense cost him a handful of wins in 2009 and 2010, too.And while most baseball people are coming around to the notion that wins and losses don't accurately reflect a pitcher's performance, they still matter. Losing a game in which you pitched a gem stings, and Lincecum has felt that sting time and again.Why, then, would he willingly commit to three or four more years of it? He won't, based on his recent comment to the San Francisco Chronicle, and it's difficult to blame him.This isn't about money at all. It's about winning. Always has been for Lincecum, who already is ungodly rich and will become moreso no matter what happens this winter, when he's up for arbitration.He's arb-eligible next winter, too, so unless the Giants do the unthinkable and trade him, he's a Giant through 2013 at the very least.Beyond that? It's anyone's guess.The Giants would love to sign Lincecum to a deal that locks him down beyond his arbitration years, but they'd be fine with another two-year deal.Lincecum's camp, however, is taking a wait-and-see approach. And what they're waiting to see is what the Giants do to make sure not just that another 2.74 ERA doesn't lead to a losing record, but that all of the club's many gifted pitchers don't have to throw a shutout to win, that the offense will be able to carry the club for stretches instead of leaning so heavily on the pitching staff.That doesn't make Lincecum selfish. Heck, he's taking a big risk in not wanting to sign for more than one year at a time. A long-term deal brings guaranteed glue. An injury stops the gravy train cold.Look, anyone involved with Bay Area sports wants to see Lincecum in Orange and Black forever. He's an all-timer, an icon after just four years.But if you take a step back, don't you see where he's coming from?

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.