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Notes: Lincecum likes change
07/22/2007 3:16 PM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Tim Lincecum doesn't really miss throwing his knuckleball.

The hard-throwing youngster hasn't managed to fool batters into awkward swings on the knuckler since his high school days anyway.

"They probably wouldn't even swing at it here," Lincecum said.

The right-hander is more than happy with his current arsenal of a high-90s fastball, a curveball and a recently discovered changeup that has made all the difference for him.

Lincecum used to rely primarily on his heater and curveball, while trying to find a third pitch with which he could disrupt the timing of opposing batters. The 23-year-old threw an adequate slider and a very inconsistent changeup during his time at the University of Washington and up until last season in the Minor Leagues.

But he's left the slider alone now that he has developed his sharp-breaking changeup. Lincecum has a modified split-finger grip on the changeup in which he nestles the ball in between his index and middle fingers.

All the tinkering on the pitch came on his own initiative, and he finally developed enough confidence to throw it for strikes at the beginning of this season.

"A changeup's a big deal at any level, I'd say, probably mostly college and up, just getting guys off balance," Lincecum said. "That's the name of the game. That's pitching right there -- it's messing up the batters' timing."

Lincecum feels satisfied enough not to even think about his knuckler any more -- not even the three or four times per game he used to throw it in college.

"I'm pretty happy with what I've got right now," Lincecum said, chuckling. "I feel like that's enough on my plate."

Bullpen in good shape: The prospect of playing 38 games in their next 38 days hasn't fazed the Giants relievers much at all.

Entering Sunday's game, San Francisco's bullpen had logged a total of 263 innings, dead last in the National League. Giants starters had tossed the league's third-highest total of 588 2/3 innings and were tied for first with five complete games.

"Right now, we're well rested," said Vinnie Chulk, who entered Sunday tied with Jack Taschner for the staff lead with 40 appearances. "We should be able to take these 30 days in stride. We have a lot of guys that can get outs out there, and as long as we can do it efficiently, we're going to be fine."

Giants starters have averaged 6.20 innings per start and have lasted six innings or more in 65 of the club's 95 games entering Sunday's action. Lincecum's career-high-tying eight innings left the bullpen with the task of mopping up just one inning in Saturday's 8-0 win over the Brewers.

"They've done a great job," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his starters. "They've been pretty consistent giving us quality starts and getting us deep in the game."

The bullpen recently was bolstered by the return of left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who ranks fourth among NL relievers with a 12.12 strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio. Sanchez said his rib cage still gets tight when he's resting, but it no longer bothers him when he's pitching.

"I'm pretty much 100 percent and ready to go," Sanchez said.

Always a good time: Taschner doesn't think the novelty of pitching at Miller Park will ever wear off for him.

The native of nearby Racine, Wis., had about 50 family members and friends on hand to watch each of the Giants' three games against the Brewers this weekend -- just as many as during his first career trip to Miller Park in a Giants uniform last September.

"It's always fun, and I think it'll always be fun as long as I play this game, coming back to Milwaukee," Taschner said.

Taschner got to meet his head coach from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Tom Lechnir, during the Giants' June trip to Miller Park, but he already knew Lechnir wouldn't be able to make it this time around.

Still, Taschner has found several other surprise visitors waiting for him at Miller Park in each of the weekend's games.

"There's a lot of people that I haven't seen in years that show up down by the bullpen," Taschner said. "All the time, it's always somebody new."

Late scratch: Second baseman Ray Durham was a late scratch from the Giants lineup with neck stiffness. Rich Aurilia took over for Durham in the field and batted in his No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Minor change: The Giants have reassigned Double-A Connecticut manager Dave Machemer to a Major League scouting position. Shane Turner, a Minor League roving instructor, will take over as Connecticut's skipper.

On deck: The Giants now return home for a seven-game homestand that begins with a four-game set against the Braves on Monday evening. Right-hander Matt Cain (3-11, 3.87 ERA) takes the mound to face Atlanta ace John Smoltz (9-5, 2.88) in the series opener.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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