SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum can be just as deceiving when he doesn't fool hitters as he is when he does.Lincecum's 4.37 Cactus League ERA, which rises to 5.33 if a performance in a March 21 rainout is included, might fool observers into thinking that he struggled in his six exhibition starts. But, as Lincecum explained after his appearance Saturday in the Giants' 9-6 victory over Cincinnati, the Arizona atmosphere often robs him of his usual command. Lincecum yielded six runs and 11 hits in five innings to the Reds, including a three-run homer in the fourth inning by ex-Giant Fred Lewis. That instance exemplified Lincecum's helplessness. He threw Lewis a changeup, which usually would dart outside. This one didn't do that.
2010 Spring Training - San Francisco Giants
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"He went out and got it," Lincecum said. "I think it was coming back to the middle of the plate. That tends to happen to me down here. My changeup kind of goes both ways. Obviously, you want to trust it and not worry about what it's going to do. But I've accepted the fact that I don't know where it's going to go."Lincecum, who said that he experiences the same phenomenon in the mile-high air of Colorado, still showed signs during this spring of the form that helped him capture the National League's Cy Young Award in 2008 and '09. He struck out 24 batters in 22 2/3 innings, echoing the NL strikeout titles he has won in the last three years. "I think I got to a point where I got physically ready," Lincecum said. "Mentally, it got tedious a little bit." Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that a fifth-inning double by Juan Francisco, which helped account for two runs, was essentially a ground ball that took a high hop off first baseman Mark DeRosa's glove. That further inflated Lincecum's totals. "I thought he showed good arm strength today," Bochy said, referring to Lincecum's 90-pitch total. "Overall, I thought it was a pretty good day for Timmy." Bochy said that Lincecum's complaints of wayward pitches were legitimate. "It's hard to read some pitchers here in Arizona," Bochy said. "The ball may not move quite the same, and not just the fastball. You're talking about the changeup or breaking ball. I'm not concerned the least bit with Timmy. I like where he is."
Wilson again plays catch, but opener up in air
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Wilson feels strong both ways regarding whether he'll be fit to perform in Thursday's season opener at Los Angeles."I don't deal with doubt," Wilson said Saturday. "So it's not going to be a surprise if I'm out there on the mound. To me, at least. And it wouldn't be a surprise if I'm not. It's not in my control." "I'd say it's still 50-50," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Kind of what we thought at the beginning."
San Francisco's closer, who's attempting to overcome a strained oblique muscle in his left side, played catch for the second day in a row and might try throwing at a longer distance, between 90 and 100 feet, on Sunday."From there," said Wilson, "I'll get on the mound and start intensifying the workout." Even if Wilson throws from a mound soon, it's highly unlikely that he'll be able to pitch on back-to-back days or make a multiple-inning appearance -- items on a reliever's preseason checklist -- before the opener. Even if Wilson begins the season on the active roster, he might have to be used on a limited basis until he builds up arm strength. "If there were some sort of exercise I could do -- the most excruciating exercise ever -- to get me better, trust me, I'd be doing it," Wilson said. "But the only thing that can heal this is time and doing whatever the doctors ask of me. And if it comes down to game time [and] their decision is to hold me back a little bit longer, who am I to argue? I'm not a doctor. I will follow the instructions and protocol and when they tell me it's time to throw, I'll be ready."
Giants may have already finalized pitching staff
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants' decision on their pitching staff's remaining vacancy -- or two vacancies, if closer Brian Wilson opens the season on the disabled list -- might have already been made.Asked Saturday how heavily the performance of the involved candidates in the final exhibition games will influence who is chosen for the Opening Day roster, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "It's hard to quantify that. Not much." Three right-handers competing for a spot on the staff were to pitch Saturday. Guillermo Mota strengthened his case with a scoreless inning in the 9-6 split-squad victory over Cincinnati, trimming his ERA to 3.55. Mota has an edge over his rivals, having made the postseason roster last year. Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Suppan appeared in the other split-squad game against Cleveland later Saturday. Vogelsong allowed three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Indians. Suppan threw four innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Left-hander Dan Runzler has a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings spanning seven outings, and right-hander Marc Kroon has forced his way into consideration with eight consecutive scoreless one-inning appearances. Though four days remain in the exhibition season, the aspiring Giants may have exhausted their chances. "These candidates have all had a good spring," Bochy said. "Whoever's not on this club is not because of performance. We just don't have enough room. It's been very competitive and that's what you want to see."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Andres Torres will start on Opening Day against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. There had been some speculation that Torres, a switch-hitter who is more proficient batting left-handed, might be benched against Kershaw. Torres had a big day against the Reds on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. One of his doubles, a fourth-inning drive, appeared from some angles to be a home run. But it actually short-hopped the fence. ... Third baseman Pablo Sandoval backhanded Drew Stubbs' wicked second-inning grounder to start a slick double play, reflecting Sandoval's diligent defensive practice. The slimmed-down infielder didn't have to go far to make the play, but his improved physical conditioning has given him a quicker first step. "I'm not satisfied," Sandoval said, "but I'm happy with the work I've been doing." Asked if he would have made that play last year, Sandoval replied, "I don't know." ... Bochy related that second baseman Freddy Sanchez was unharmed after being accidentally kneed in the head by Reds shortstop Paul Janish. The collision occurred in the fifth inning as Sanchez slid headfirst into second base.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.