All signs point to Lincecum not starting in NLDS


All signs point to Lincecum not starting in NLDS

Two years ago, Bruce Bochy ignored Barry Zito's contract, studied his games, and made him the fifth wheel in the Giants' four-man playoff rotation, to much consternation and wagging of tongues. This time, Bochy seems to have doubled down and done the same to Tim Lincecum, despite the same contractual and historical perceptions, and for the same reason. Results.

Bochy announced Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Game 3 Tuesday, and barring a complete change of heart regarding Barry Zito or a need to bring back Matt Cain on short rest in Game 4, the decision on Lincecum is as close to official as not actually saying it can be.

In short, Bochy has done everything but shout it out.

In addition, Lincecum worked with the relievers earlier today, which is another dot that can only be connected one way. Thus, Lincecum's elevated place in the pitching hierarchy apparently has been rendered less important than his substandard resume this year.

The decision can be considered surprising to some because:

(a) Lincecum is Lincecum and has the Cy Young bookends to prove it;

(b) Vogelsong seemed the likeliest candidate for bullpen work, especially in Cincinnati had either Zito or Lincecum struggled in the absurdly friendly confines of Great American Ball Park;

(c) How many Cy Young winners and franchise faces get reduced to scut work so soon after the acme of their careers?

But there is one reason why it makes perfect sense, even with all the payroll, political and long-term implications that might be implied, namely this:

Bruce Bochy manages the ball team, not the payroll. He did it with Zito and Pablo Sandoval two years ago (although Sandoval wasn't so much a payroll consideration), and even though Lincecum has more on his Baseball Reference page than most people his age, nothing about his 2012 suggested anything but a cul de sac in his career.

Lincecum presumably will become the principal long man if such a creature is needed, but it is likelier still that there will be no opportunities for Bochy to use him in this series unless something has gone dramatically wrong for the Giants. Bochy's decision delay in announcing the rotation probably comes in part to protect Lincecum from the media grilling, but the decision to go with Vogelsong had been made awhile ago, perhaps as much as two weeks. Bochy kept his options open, but Lincecum's last few outings dipped while Vogelsong's rose, and Zito had long ago established his CV as a member of the rotation.

The announcement is binding only for Cincinnati, of course, and Bochy can revisit the issue for any subsequent series. But for the moment, Bochy showed that he is not only large and in charge as he was in 2010, but that he is far bolder with his lineups than any of his critics are willing to admit. Indeed, Lincecum got significant applause from the crowd before the game because he still has throw-weight in the stands.

But he does not have quite so much with the manager when the results run at such odds with the history. Whether the Lincecum move works, doesn't, or has no effect at all remains to be seen, but it is the move that seemed one step beyond until Bochy did what he did two years ago.

Go on record rather than rep.

Ray Ratto is a columnist at

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.

Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure


Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure

Bruce Bochy's minor offseason heart procedure went as planned, the team announced Friday afternoon. 

In a message passed along to beat reporters, Bochy said "the procedure went extremely well and I'm feeling better. I'm grateful for the doctors and want to thank everyone who has reached out with well wishes."

Bochy, 62, had an ablation procedure to help him deal with heart issues that have plagued him in recent years. The operation was his second of the year, but it was considered minor enough that it could be pushed back to the end of the season.

Cleveland's Terry Francona had a similar procedure this year and returned to manage, and Bochy has left no doubt about his future. 

“I don’t want anyone to think this has an effect on my work, or ability to work,” Bochy said last week. “This is something that is not uncommon.”