Lincecum gives himself good marks after facing hitters

653870.jpg

Lincecum gives himself good marks after facing hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecums fastballs were up in thezone Monday, when he faced hitters for the first time this spring. But thatdidnt lower his spirits.He labeled his session "an 8.5" on a scale of 1 to 10 and saidhe plans to be ready to take the next step. Giants manager Bruce Bochy saidLincecum should be ready for the first game of the Cactus League exhibitionschedule on Saturday, although a final determination wont be made for anotherday or two.
Lincecum appears to have pushed past his mild back stiffnessthat slowed him earlier in camp.I wasnt as sharp as I was hoping and a lot of my fastballswere mid-thigh or higher, said Lincecum, who threw on a back field. I wasmissing up more than anything. But the changeup felt good. The rhythm feltgood.Lincecum didnt allow a ball to leave the infield as hefaced Conor Gillaspie, Justin Christian, minor league catcher Andrew Susac andoutfield prospect Francisco Peguero. Susac checked his swing a couple of times.That was fun, said Susac, who was drafted in June fromOregon State by way of Jesuit High near Sacramento. That changeup is one heckof a pitch.Susac said hes only faced one pitcher like Lincecum, andthat was UCLAs Trevor Bauer last Junes third overall pick by the ArizonaDiamondbacks. (Most members of Lincecum's hitting group actually said they were more uncomfortable against the next pitcher they faced, sidewinding left-hander Javier Lopez. Gillaspie shook his head after whiffing twice, but Christian managed to take him deep.)It was a good day for the rest of the rotation, too. MadisonBumgarner looked sharp and composed as he faced hitters; Ryan Vogelsong, whohas been slowed by a strained lower back, played catch with no problems andlikely will toss it around again Tuesday.Bochy didnt watch Lincecum. He was on the main fieldsurveying Bumgarner.Hes 22 years old and you can get amped with all these other young kids flyingout there, Bochy said. But he had good tempo, good pace. He knew what hewanted to work on out there. Its impressive for a young kid.None of the pitchers worked with Buster Posey on Monday. A day afterhe faced live batting practice for the first time, Posey was held out ofworkouts completely as a precaution. He said his left ankle was fine andconfided in Bochy that he felt strange about not taking the field.I said to Buster, Hey, thats the kind of country club wererunning here, Bochy said.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.