Trainer meets with Lincecum after another start blows up


Trainer meets with Lincecum after another start blows up


MIAMI Tim Lincecum had just finished answering questionsabout another atomic inning, another disappointing start and the Giants eighthloss in 10 times hes climbed the hill in 2012.

Thats when trainer Dave Groeschner quietly summoned him into thebatting cage for a meeting that lasted nearly 15 minutes. Manager Bruce Bochyand GM Brian Sabean disappeared during that time, too.

If this was a summit with their struggling ace, the Giantswerent divulging the particulars.

But Groeschner knew what assumptions could be made.

Hes healthy, Groeschner volunteered, as he brushed pastme in the clubhouse. And hes in good shape best in years.

Hes doing all his work between starts?

Watch him, Groeschner said.

Whether its mental, physical, emotional, spiritual ortranscendental, something remains very much out of alignment for Lincecum, theGiants erstwhile ace. Even on a night when he successfully tiptoed through early trouble, impressively hit 93.7 mph and led 3-1 entering the sixth inning, he could not pitch theGiants to one of those happy Lincecum days.

Three hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly tied the game. ThenLincecum took a lethal bite from a garter snake. He threw a flat, 0-1 curveballto Chris Coghlan, a .104 hitter who didnt have a home run to his name beforehis soul-crushing three-run shot sent Lincecum and the Giants to an eventual 7-6 loss at Marlins Park.

There was no terror or soul-searching in Lincecums eyes orvoice as he met with reporters. More of a calm defiance. A few R-rated words,too.

It has to do with being focused and locked in on everypitch, Lincecum said. Against hitters like that, anything can happen. Ivebeen known this year to let things snowball. I just left pitches up.

Did he lose focus in the sixth?

No, I was locked in from the first pitch to the lastpitch, he said. Its just not letting pitches get away from me, and lettinggo of the pitches that I (screwed) up on, not letting them sneak back into yourhead.

He spoke of focusing on the positives and letting go of thenegatives a postgame message that is becoming his script after every start.

I know, he said. I keep beating that (deleted) horse todeath. But its so true out here.

Lincecum insisted he didnt feel tired at any point duringthe game, even though he worked hard to escape a jam in the fifth inning andHanley Ramirez battled him for an eight-pitch strikeout in the sixth.

The data supports him. Lincecum's average four-seam fastball was 91.82 mph -- nearly two mph higher than his average in his first nine starts. He didn't throw one heater below 90 mph and he topped out at 93.7, according to PitchFX.

Lincecum said he simply paid for two curveballs that hedidnt execute: the pitch to Coghlan and another in the fourth that GiancarloStanton pinged off the splashy whatchamacallit in left-center field.

But his problems are not localized to two pitches plucked from each start. Not whenthe Giants are 2-8 in his outings. Not when he has a 6.41 ERA.

For a starter to lose eight of 10? Its not good, he said.I really havent put the team in position to win.

Even in one of his victories, Lincecum noted, he scrapedby the Mets. Hes thrown one quality start out of 10.

Hopefully we can turn this page and start over with these23 starts or whatever the hell its going to be, he said. Thats all I cando.

Bochy is still giving Lincecum the respect of an ace. He letthe right-hander try to work out of the situation in the sixth, even keepinghim in the game after John Bucks sacrifice fly tied it something Bochy almostcertainly wouldnt have done during Barry Zitos erratic periods over theyears.

The manager did not respond kindly to a question aboutleaving Lincecum in the game.

I dont know if hes losing concentration or if hes tryingtoo hard, but hes just having trouble, Bochy said. He got the ball up thatinning.

Maybe the turnaround starts with a summit. Or maybe it startswith calm defiance, and a few R-rated words.

I was really happy with how he competed, said catcherBuster Posey. I felt he was locked in as good as Ive seen him. Even theinning he struggled, you saw good body language the whole time.

Its true. For what its worth, Lincecums slender shouldersdid not sag this time. As Coghlan rounded the bases to start the fishies spinning on the fountainand give Miami a 6-3 lead, Lincecum had his eyes locked on the umpire. He helda pose with his glove raised, seeking another baseball.

Hell have to wait four more days to throw it.

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."