Giants

Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters

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Lincecum overcomes first-day jitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Tim Lincecum is known for his huge stride off the mound. He nearly set a long-jump record as he took the field Saturday afternoon.My adrenaline was kind of going, said Lincecum, who threw two innings in the Giants Cactus League opener. The first inning, I felt a little more erratic. I almost jumped from the grass cut to the mound.Thats what facing the Arizona Diamondbacks will do. Lincecum allowed a run on three hits in the first inning, but controlled his emotions and his fastball better in the second inning. He threw 21 of his 33 pitches for strikes, generated more than a half-dozen whiffs on his changeup and said his lower back was a non-issue.
He made his statement to the first batter, striking out Ryan Roberts on three pitches.Yeah definitely, I kind of surprised myself there that first batter, Lincecum said. Obviously, the first game, against an NL West rival, my adrenaline was kind of going. I was able to collect my nerves that second inning, calm down and be able to throw a little more collectively.Lincecums fastball was just 89-90 mph, but he said he wasnt concerned.For me I felt the ball was coming out fine, he said. Swings on the changeups were an inclination there must be some offset (from the fastball). So thats good.Lincecum threw only fastball-change. He said hed work on flat ground to find the same release point with his slider and curveball before he starts to incorporate them in his next outing.My whole idea behind fastball-changeup is these are pitches you have to get out in front and you have to get extension, Lincecum said. For me, curveball-slider are pitches you have to pull more into your body. Youve got to make them break. So Im trying to work backwards and make it easier on myself.Its always easier to execute when youre calm. But Lincecum hasnt forgotten how he lost control in his final regular-season start at Arizona last September a loss that left his record at 13-14. He also hasnt forgotten that hell get the NL West-champion Diamondbacks again on Opening Day, April 6 at Chase Field.Lincecum was scheduled for one inning Saturday but said he was told hed operate with a 40-pitch limit. So he welcomed the chance to sit down and throw another inning.You see them too many times before the season starts and the scouting report can be too vast, said Lincecum, who struck out two and didnt walk a batter. Its nice to give them a little bit of a taste and not a whole bunch. Two innings were good. Im glad to get that out of the way.He also got the Justin Upton confrontation out of the way. Lincecum was distressed last September when he threw a pitch that struck Upton on the helmet, knocking out Arizonas best hitter for a few days. Upton managed a single in the first inning.You can ask him, but I was wondering if there were any thoughts going through in his head about if one is let go accidentally, Lincecum said. When I was out there I wasnt making a conscious effort not to throw at his head. It was just, Try not to worry about what happened. Try to go out there and have fun and not think about that incident and just worry about now.Lincecums new outfield had a busy day. Center fielder Angel Pagan overran Uptons single, making an error on his first chance as a Giant. But left fielder Melky Cabrera showed off a strong arm, throwing out Upton trying to score from second base on Miguel Monteros single.Oh God, Lincecum said. I didnt think hed crow hop and throw him out. Im running to back up home plate and the ball already was there. I thought, 'Hey, thats one less out Ive got to get.'That thought didnt go through Lincecums mind when catcher Chris Stewart caught a foul pop to end the inning. Lincecum, thinking there were two outs, called for the ball.I got caught up, Lincecum said. You can obviously tell where my head is.Better than in a regular-season game, right?Or the first game of the World Series, replied Lincecum, in reference to his infamously self-described brain fart in 2010, when he ran Texas Michael Young back to third base without realizing it wasnt a force play.He can laugh about that now.Hindsight makes it a little easier, Lincecum said.

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

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Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”