There were some positives over the first two innings. The first batter Tim Lincecum faced, Everth Cabrera, hit a slow grounder to second baseman Kensuke Tanaka. Tanaka charged and threw a ball that hit the dugout screen. A similar Tanaka error occurred when Lincecum faced the leadoff hitter in first start of the spring. Just like in that start against the Dodgers, Lincecum got out of the first inning unscathed against the Padres on a warm Tuesday night in Scottsdale.
But in that first start, Lincecum got the leadoff hitter out in the second inning, but was soon lifted after allowing hits to the next three Dodgers he faced.
Tonight, Lincecum’s second frame went much better. After getting Jesus Guzman on a fly ball to center to lead off the inning, he walked Yonder Alonzo and gave up a single to Jedd Gyorko. But instead of letting the inning unravel like on Feb. 26, Lincecum struck out the next two batters.
He ended up allowing three runs on the night over 2 1/3 innings, as he was taken out after allowing an infield single, a single to center and a triple down the right field line to 37-year-old Mark Kotsay (who has somehow avoided playing for the Giants all these years). In all, Lincecum threw 43 pitches and struck out three — all swinging. His fastball velocity hit 93 and he threw some nice changeups.
“Every pitch probably could’ve been better, altogether,” Lincecum said. “But pleased all around. The blister wasn’t an issue, got my pitch count up.”
It’s a longer than average Cactus League season, but Lincecum has spent a lot of time on the sidelines, applying “mystery mud” and lime juice to the blister on his right middle finger. Talking about treating that blister led to a bit of unfortunate wording for Lincecum, who quickly realized his mistake.
“With all the forward-thinkers in the clubhouse, all the juicing,” said Lincecum, who started cracking up. “Lime juice and all the mud stuff, obviously to make sure it doesn’t become a future problem as well.”
The blister issue will probably become a footnote forgotten by most once the season starts, a season that’s incredibly important for Lincecum’s reputation and future earning potential. Based on his comments, he’s far better prepared now to “open eyes,” as he put it.
“My body, where it felt last year and where it feels now, is night and day,” said Lincecum.
His manager agreed.
“I think he’s stronger this spring. He’s definitely shown a lot more arm strength,” Bruce Bochy said. “He worked hard this winter. I like where he’s at right now, he’s ahead of where he was at this point last year.”
It’s a results-oriented business, and Lincecum has now allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring. Lincecum has four starts left to get ready for his contract year. It isn’t a lot of time, but Lincecum sounded ready to advise designers on Project Runway, a la another Tim (Gunn).
“I have to make it work,” he said.
Bochy has been downplaying pretty much any challenge so far since there’s more time to iron out kinks and “get into a good rhythm” (every pitchers seems to bring up the nebulous “rhythm” thing). And tonight was no different when he was asked about Lincecum being behind schedule.
“No doubt in my mind that’s plenty of time. We’ll have him where we want him when the season starts. Knock on wood, unless, you know … a blister or something.”
— It was about as bright at Scottsdale Stadium as your average high school football game. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with a rough night in the field for the Giants (who lost 6-2, by the way). But the team was not all that sharp.
“Tonight wasn’t a good game for a lot of us,” Bochy said. “An off night.”
— Hector Sanchez caught Lincecum, with Posey playing first base. Sanchez dealt with pain in his right shoulder early on in camp, then missed a few days with a calf ailment. Tonight Sanchez threw a ball into center as Cabrera stole second, went 0-for-3 and had a passed ball.
“He had a rough night. He didn’t look comfortable catching or swinging the bat. An off night for Hector,” said Bochy, who also mentioned that he’ll probably check on Sanchez since his calf may have tightened up again while running up the first base line. Bochy said that Sanchez is behind right now in terms of playing time, but at least there won’t be any need for a “Camp Hector” in the future.
“He’s worked hard to get his weight where we want it. He’s doing very well with that,” Bochy said.
— Johnny Monell blasted a pitch off Freddy Garcia (who looked very good over four innings after getting shelled in his first three starts this spring). It landed foul down the right field line but had home run distance, and then Monell blasted the next pitch about 100 feet to the left for a fairly impressive home run. I was watching the ball, so I missed a bat flip from Monell that I saw mentioned by several folks on Twitter who were watching the game on TV.
— I was sitting next to Andrew Baggarly tonight, which meant I had to try to keep a straight face while I was probably on television for several seconds (CSN Bay Area loves showing closeups of their employees while they’re typing away in the press box). I’m sure I looked like a total dork, and to make matters worse I didn’t even apply makeup this afternoon.
And yes, this post included a reference to makeup and Project Runway. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hit up the town and find a bar that makes a good appletini with a Zima chaser. Fabulous!