Affeldt an important part of Giants' bullpen

MESA, Ariz. -- Can an athlete turn back the clock five seasons? Jeremy Affeldt might have accomplished this.

Affeldt started Monday's "B" game against the Cubs and pitched one shutout inning, walking one and striking out one. He then declared that he feels healthier than he has since 2009, his first season as a Giant, when he made 74 appearances and recorded a 1.73 ERA.

Affeldt underwent surgery for a sports hernia last September, which apparently solved some longtime discomfort in his groin.

"I feel like now, I'm behind the ball a lot better and so I was a little more fluid, whereas in the last few years I had to alter some of my mechanics," the left-hander said. "... My body's in good enough shape that I'm going to trust that it'll do what it needs to do."

Affeldt added that he'll begin to "ramp up" his efforts in fielding drills, admitting that he still hasn't gone full speed yet. He pointed out that he made himself break quickly from the mound to cover first base on a grounder to Angel Villalona.

That's partly why Affeldt preferred to pitch in the "B" encounter instead of throwing another round of live batting practice.

"It forced me to be in a game situation rather than just throw, let them hit it and watch it," he said.

Lincecum hurls two shutout innings in debut

SD@SF: Lincecum hurls two scoreless frames vs. Padres

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At his best, Tim Lincecum displayed a knack for self-maintenance by adjusting his pitching mechanics in the middle of a game.

Lincecum executed this sort of quick fix Monday, becoming the fifth Giants starter in a row to work two scoreless innings before the San Diego Padres surged to a 7-2 victory.

Lincecum realized in the second inning that he was moving toward home plate with his back to the target instead of his front (left) side. This caused him to elevate his fastball, as evidenced by Kyle Blanks' leadoff double and Ryan Jackson's one-out walk.

"I was falling toward home plate instead of driving," said Lincecum, who recovered by slipping a called third strike past Jace Peterson and retiring Rymer Liriano on a fielder's-choice grounder.

Lincecum was sharper in the first inning, when he coaxed three consecutive groundouts.

"That's what I'm looking for," said Lincecum, who has renewed his focus on keeping his pitches low after finishing 20-29 with a 4.76 ERA in the previous two seasons.

Manager Bruce Bochy is certainly looking for the sharpness the starters have sustained in the last five games. Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner and rookie Edwin Escobar have combined to allow three hits, issue one walk and strike out six in 10 shutout innings.

"That says a lot about the type of shape they've come in and where they are with their stuff," Bochy said.

Worth noting

• Manager Bruce Bochy said first baseman Brandon Belt (neck) was held out of baseball-related activities Monday. Bochy hopes that Belt, whose discomfort is not considered serious, can play Tuesday against Colorado.

Mark Minicozzi, who has one of the Giants' three homers this spring, crushed a ninth-inning drive to left field that was ruled foul. Bochy confirmed that the call was correct. "I hit a few of those," said Bochy, who spent parts of nine seasons in the Majors. "They were always foul."

Yusmeiro Petit, the pre-camp favorite to capture a long reliever's role, fell to 0-2 and has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings. Bochy reiterated that Petit's finesse style often doesn't play well in the Cactus League. "This is not the best place for him to get in shape," Bochy said. "He's not a power guy."