Giants

Bochy meets with bullpen, maps out new plan for 9th

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Bochy meets with bullpen, maps out new plan for 9th

ST. LOUIS As recently as four months ago, Jeremy Affeldtwent on record calling a closer-by-committee approach an exercise in futility.

Hes a believer now.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righettiassembled the relievers and delivered an impassioned speech, telling them thatmatchups would dictate who inherits the closer role on a given night and thatthis bullpen was talented and tough enough to adjust.

I think Boch and Rags both said it pretty good, Affeldtsaid. They said, Look, this is what we have to do. We believe in you guys. Weknow what can happen in these situations, but we have a lot of faith that thisbullpen can do it.

When youre addressed like that, you want to go out andback them up. You say, If this is what it is, lets do it.

They got the job done Tuesday night while protecting BarryZitos decision in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.Bochy tapped Sergio Romo in the eighth inning to get through the right-handedmiddle of the Cardinals order. After Yadier Molina hit a two-out double,Affeldt took it the rest of the way.

It couldve been the other way with Romo, said Bochy, whodescribed the committee in these terms:

When we get down to the last six outs, itll be Romo andAffeldt and (Javier) Lopez, and if they need a break, itll be the other guys.

What about erstwhile closer Santiago Casilla, who naileddown 19 of his first 20 save attempts but has a 7.82 ERA over his last 17games?

He warmed up in the seventh inning. He wasnt warming up inthe ninth. Only Brad Penny was getting loose as Affeldt finished up for histhird save.

Sure enough, Bochy confirmed that Casillas blister issueacted up again. He wasnt available.

Affeldt can cite plenty of anecdotal evidence about thecloser-by-committee turning toxic. Its hard to imagine the Giants, who play somany tight games especially at AT&T Park, where theyve hit 17 home runsin 55 games can operate smoothly down a pennant stretch with such an unsettledbullpen.

Theres a reason that Bochy left Matt Cain and Zito on themound a bit longer in the first two games of this series (with a bad resultMonday and a better outcome Tuesday).

And the Giants remain actively looking for bullpen help onthe waiver wire, which could change the dynamic.

But for right now, for those eight relief pitchers, this isthe contract theyve been assigned.

We all felt more comfortable at least being told, Affeldtsaid. Today, it would have been chaotic if we didnt know whats going on.Because we did, we handled ourselves appropriately.

Were carrying eight guys in the pen. Well be used. Butour starters, man, the way they throw, theyre pretty consistent. I dont thinkwell burn through all our guys.

Affeldt also pointed out that because its a veteranbullpen, the relievers are thinking as the game goes along. They account forwhos coming up and whom the opposing team has left on the bench. Bullpen coachMark Gardner is in their ear with scouting reports and reminders so they arentsurprised by anything when they get out there, which is a huge help.

You just mentally agree to it, Affeldt said. I thinkwere all pretty comfortable with the scenario weve been given.

Theyll have to be. In the meantime, more run support isnever a bad thing.

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

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AP

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

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USATSI

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”