Lincecum avoids Rockies, faces minor leaguers


Lincecum avoids Rockies, faces minor leaguers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Dave Righetti must care a lot abouthis pitching staff. He lays awake at night thinking about them.

The Giants longtime pitching coach sent a text messageto Tim Lincecum at 12:34 a.m. Wednesday night, letting him know of a change inplans for his next start. Instead of facing the Colorado Rockies at Salt RiverFields Thursday night, Lincecum threw 91 pitches in a Single-A game at theGiants minor league complex.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner worked on his fastballcommand and pitched into the sixth inning while giving up four runs at IndianSchool Park. The change of plans was designed to give him a controlledenvironment to build his pitch count and also avoid facing the Rockies, whomhell face in his second start of the regular season.

It didnt seem fair when Lincecum threw one of his lethalchangeups to dust off an Angels minor leaguer with No. 0 on his jersey.

I know theyre not going to feel bad if they get a hitoff of me, so I dont feel bad either, a smiling Lincecum said. Its adifferent kind of atmosphere. You kind of get back to the roots, when you weregrowing up and you just came out and played for fun and the love of the game.Not that its any different now, but its just a different atmosphere and I hada lot of fun with it.

The ticket holders for Thursday nights exhibitionprobably have a different view. Theyll watch left-hander Brian Burres insteadof Lincecum.

Lincecum said his fastball command wasnt where he wantsit; too many pitches were at the belt instead of the knees. But hes confidenthis curveball and changeup are ready for April 6, when hell start on openingday at Arizonas Chase Field.

Its Lincecums fourth Opening Day assignment. This onecomes against the defending NL West champions the team that beat him in hisfinal regular-season start in September to leave him with a 13-14 record.

Lincecum said he still gets pumped up for the Opening Dayhonor, especially this time.

Its going to be a big game because weve got a little bitof a remembrance of where we were last year, and they were able to celebrate infront of us, Lincecum said. So Im sure a lot of people are itching to getback out there and go start the battle over again. Hopefully itll be in ourfavor this time.

Will Lincecum watch the banner-raising ceremony?

Uhhmmm, he said, Im indifferent to it.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy denied that he and Righettiwere playing keepaway from the Rockies. But Lincecum said he preferred not toface them.

You try to avoid that right before the season so guysdont get a knack for you and you dont get stupid things going through yourhead, he said.

Like what?

Like are these guys on me? he said. You questionyourself sometimes in the spring. The first outing I had against them wasabsolutely terrible. Its a new slate when the season starts. Its easier to dothat when I dont have to face them right before the season.

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

McCutchen ready for more conversations with 'Steve the Seagull' at AT&T Park

Andrew McCutchen has been one of the best players in the National League for years now. The 31-year-old is a five-time All-Star and was named the 2013 NL MVP. 

Not only do his stats stand out, McCutchen is also one of the most entertaining players in baseball. And that's clearly going to continue in San Francisco. 

On Thursday, McCutchen was asked about the famous seagulls of San Francisco flying around the outfield at AT&T Park. 

"I definitely made a few friends out there over the years. Steve the Seagull out there, I know him," McCutchen said on KNBR. "He comes in every now and then. We have a little pow-wow when I come to San Francisco. Yeah, we get along well, me and the guys, me and the birds. They know when to come in that's for sure." 

Denard Span, who the Giants traded to acquire Evan Longoria, had a much different relationship with the seagulls. 

McCutchen is clearly the opposite of Span in this regard though. He seems about as calm as can be when it comes to the birds paying him a visit. 

"They chill, we have some conversations. It's all good," says McCutchen. 

One other aspect McCutchen can't wait for in the outfield at AT&T Park, is getting to know all the fans. Specifically, not being a part of a special chant Giants fans have for opposing outfielders. 

"I'm lookin' forward to fans not callin' me bums anymore," McCutchen said with a laugh. "I'm glad I'm on the winning side. I'm glad I'm on the San Francisco Giants side. I can't wait to meet all the fans."