Lincecum and Zito in, Bumgarner out of playoff rotation


Lincecum and Zito in, Bumgarner out of playoff rotation

ST. LOUIS Itll be up to Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito tobring the NLCS back to AT&T Park.

Following the Giants rain-delayed 3-1 loss to the St. LouisCardinals in Game 3 Wednesday night, manager Bruce Bochy made it official: Lincecum would takethe mound Thursday in Game 4 against Adam Wainwright the two-time Cy YoungAward winners first postseason start since he won the World Series clincher atTexas two years ago.

And Zito, a little further removed from his 2002 AL Cy Young season, is the choice over Madison Bumgarner to pitch inGame 5. He's likely to oppose Lance Lynn.

Bochy said he delayed the announcement in case he neededLincecum to pitch in relief in case the weather or extra innings necessitatedit Wednesday night.

Hes the guy we want out there and hes been throwing theball well, Bochy said. Weve got to bounce back, and its great to have a guylike Timmy all set to go for us.

The Lincecum decision was expected. The Giants werent goingto start both their left-handers, Zito and Bumgarner, against a club thatposted the best average in the NL against southpaws.

But the decision to dump Bumgarner from the rotation was amild surprise, if only because Bochy said in the interview room a day earlierthat he wasnt as concerned about the 23-year-olds struggles as everyone mightbe led to believe.

Ultimately, Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti decidedBumgarner was worn down.

We feel its time to give Madison a little break, saidBochy, adding that Bumgarner would be available in the bullpen. Hes a youngkid, 23. Hes been pitching a lot of innings and we feel at this point werebetter off giving him a break and going with Z, whos done a nice job for us.

Bumgarner insisted he wasnt injured.

If I was, Id lie to you, he said. But Im really not.

Bumgarner is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in two postseason starts.He ended the regular season with a 5.89 ERA in his last seven outings, anddidnt complete seven innings once. He has thrown 216 13 innings, counting theplayoffs, after throwing 204 23 last year and working all the way to his WorldSeries victory on Oct. 31 the year before that

Its whats best for the team right now, Bumgarner said. Im not throwingthe ball well at all right now. Theyve got to do whats best to give us achance to win.

The Giants have won the last 12 times Zito has taken themound, although the left-hander didnt make it out of the third inning and wasplagued by walks in his Game 4 start at Cincinnati. That night, Lincecumswooped in and saved the Giants with 4 13 solid, strike-filled relief innings.

Lincecum is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA in three postseason reliefappearances spanning 8 13 innings. Hes allowed just three hits, walked oneand struck out nine. It was a huge improvement from a miserable regular seasonin which he needed a second-half rally just to shave down his ERA to 5.18.

Id say his stuffs had more life on it, said catcherBuster Posey, who very possibly might be at first base for Game 4. Hes beenlocating better. Everything, really, has been better. We have a lot ofconfidence when hes on the mound.

Said Matt Cain, the hard-luck loser in Game 3: We feel wevegot a great chance with Timmy.

Bochy said he hasnt decided on a catcher for either of thenext two games. But Brandon Belts two ground outs to second base and hiscalled strikeout will inspire thoughts of putting Hector Sanchez Lincecum andZitos more frequent batterymate behind the plate and moving Posey to firstbase.

Posey, asked if he expected to start at catcher in Game 4, said: "Yes, that's what I expect. I don't know if that's the case."

Bochy will consider other lineup changes, perhaps movingdown Hunter Pence in the order.

The Giants trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. They need towin at least one of two at Busch Stadium, or else there will be no morebaseball at Third and King this year.

We are in their house, center fielder Angel Pagan said. Youdont want to be behind. But we have been in this position before.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.