Rockies tee off on Lincecum's fastball

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Rockies tee off on Lincecum's fastball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecum didnt see 49-year-oldJamie Moyer subdue the Giants for two scoreless innings on Wednesday.

Lincecum was already upstairs in the trainers room, liftingweights and trying to forget about how the Colorado Rockies peppered his rathertame fastball for five runs in two innings.

Look what I did, that was terrible, Lincecum said. Andthen Im the one that says, 'Wow, hes 49. Hes going back out there.' Hesprobably telling me to shut up right now. I will.

RECAP: Lincecum rocked, Giants rally past Rockies 8-6

Lincecum certainly did not silence the Rockies. CharlieBlackmon led off the game with a home run as Colorado sent 13 batters to theplate and collected seven hits. Lincecums fastball command wasnt good, andwhats more, his velocity topped out at 91 mph for the second consecutivestart; he pitched at 88-89 on average.

Thats well below last years average fastball velocity of92.2 mph, according to PitchFX. While its very early, Lincecum typicallydoesnt need much time in the spring to ramp up.

Lincecum said he wasnt concerned.

Uh, yeah, I mean, its tough to tell right now, Lincecumsaid. I feel the ball is coming out fine. If anything was a real problem Imsure (catcher Chris Stewart) would come out and say, 'Hey man, somethings notright.' I felt fine and other than the result. Everythings good.

Stewart said Lincecum was just fighting to get his fastballsdown.

Nothing to worry about, he said. When the season starts,hell be the Timmy that were all used to.

Said manager Bruce Bochy: Youll have stages in the springwhen youre getting your arm in shape. You go through the dead arm. Thats whyyoure here. Youll have velocity fluctuations.

Lincecum cannot afford to fluctuate too much. The moredifferential between his fastball and his 83-mph changeup, the more effectivethat most lethal put-away pitch will be.

Lincecum threw just 26 of his 46 pitches for strikes, andadmitted he got a little changeup happy. But he said his rhythm was good. Ifelt my times to the plate were good. It was a matter of them hitting it. Thatwas the only difference. Those innings were kind of rough, obviously. Youvegot to eliminate ... trying to get super competitive out there and (instead)focus on what youre trying to work on.

Right now Im trying to stay behind my fastball and givemyself a little less to think about. Everything for pitchers is pressure pointsand fine-tuning little movements in your hand. Im trying right now toeliminate all that and just worry about arm speed and release point.

As for that whistle he claims to hear when the ball iscoming out right?

Yeah, Lincecum said. Yeah, its there. I feel like itsthere.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The kid who raced The Freeze on Thursday night blew a tire as he hit center field, hobbled for about 50 feet, and then went down for good. He still had a better night than the Giants. 

They blew all four tires in the fifth, giving up eight runs in a nightmare frame that turned a two-run lead into a 12-11 loss. The Giants finished 1-7 on the swing through Denver and Atlanta, and they have lost 18 of their last 23 games. 

But, let’s face it, you’re here already. So here are five more things to know from the night … 

—- Matt Cain was hanging in there until the fifth, and then … disaster. The inning started with Brandon Phillips’ solo shot that cut the lead to one. Then it went single, single before Cain was relieved by Bryan Morris. After that, it was single, single, single, sacrifice fly, homer, flyout, walk, single, pitching change, single. 

—- Morris had to wear it in the fifth because the bullpen is short, and boy, did he wear it. Morris gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA jumped two full points in two-thirds of an inning. 

—- Kyle Crick made his MLB debut in that horrendous bottom of the fifth. The Giants surely did not want to bring him in with runners on, but Bruce Bochy had no choice when Morris blew up. Crick’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater. After giving up a hit in that inning, he pitched a perfect sixth and perfect seventh. Crick topped out at 97 mph. Pretty, pretty good stuff there. He needs to get a long look the rest of this year. 

—- In the second, Buster Posey hit a ball that went 311 feet and had a hit probability of just six percent. Cain hit a ball 357 feet. Posey got a homer that bounced off the top of the wall; Cain just got a double. Baseball is such an odd game.  

—- On a positive note, Javi Lopez, who calls Brandon Belt “Sparky,” repeatedly referred to Posey as Gerald. He’s going to be good at this job. 

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made.