Giants

Lincecum calls himself 'weak link,' but Giants won't skip him

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Lincecum calls himself 'weak link,' but Giants won't skip him

PITTSBURGH There was just one question to ask after thePittsburgh Pirates blew the Giants and Tim Lincecum to smithereens in a 13-2loss at PNC Park on Sunday.

And it wasnt to inquire which palm tree theyll wobble underneath for theAll-Star break.

Its this: Will Lincecum really and truly get the baseballon Saturday, with just one extra day of rest? Or will the Giants look at his6.42 ERA the absolute worst among qualified major league starting pitchers and reconsider?

No, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. No chance. Wellthrow him back out there.

So there you go.

The Giants remain near the front of the pack in the NL West.Can they really afford to throw Lincecum to the wolves?

You might ask the question another way: If Lincecum cannotturn it around, will it matter?

He has to regroup and we need him, Bochy said. Hell bedetermined to turn this around.

After another 3 13-inning, six-run meltdown in humid but bearable conditions, Lincecum is 3-10 the Giants first double-digit loser at the break since Barry Zito in 2008.

Lincecums 6.42 ERA is the highest of every blessed one of the 101 major leaguestarters who qualify for the ERA title. Remember the sheer panic that followedZito during his worst times? He never had an ERA as high as Lincecumsheading into the break. (Youll find many more brutal, revealing numbers in the Instant Replayfile.)

Lincecums quiet, almost lip-trembling postmortem containedthe phrases, terrible and rock bottom and weak link.

All accurate descriptions. But what about answers? How does Lincecum begin toprocess this?

I think the only way I can look at is you never want tosay, Hey, Ive hit rock bottom or anything like that, but things are going asbad as they are right now, and youve got to go out there like youve gotnothing left to lose, Lincecum said. Go out and leave it on the field andwhatever happens, happens.

Its happened, all right. It began happening three battersinto his start against the first-place Pirates, when he couldnt throw strikeswith his fastball. He tried to backdoor a curveball to Neil Walker. Double. Hetried to throw a changeup to Andrew McCutchen. Home run.

Fastball location hasnt been there the last couple gamesso Im going to my secondary pitches and guys are sitting on those, Lincecumsaid. They made the adjustment. Ive just got to make the adjustment back.

They adjusted in another sense. They no longer look at histhin frame and long hair and the No.55 and see an ace. They see vulnerability.

The fear has pooled atop the mound, not in the batters box.

Bochy said Lincecum just needed to forget the first half.Lincecum wasnt in complete agreement.

I have to remember it and use it to know what I dont wantto go through again, said the introspective right-hander, who has used hispostgame media sessions more and more as a kind of therapy. Its been terribleand its a terrible feeling youre letting your team down. Thats the hardestthing.

But it seems everybody else is doing their job and wereplaying good ball. To be the weaker link it wears on you.

The Giants maintain faith in Lincecum, mostly because theyfeel they have no choice. Of course, use a day off after the Houston series toskip his turn. They could give him up to 13 days between starts, instead ofjust five.

Does Lincecum see their decision as a show of faith?

Yeah, I mean, obviously they have faith in me and they toldme that from the first meeting I had with them, he said. So thats not thequestion.

Its whether or not I go out there and trust my stuff andexecute it. That other stuff is off the field or before the game or after thegame. When you get out there between those lines you arent thinking about thatbecause one through five, were pretty good as a starting staff goes.

"I dont want to be that weak link, like everyone thinkstheyre going to run into a bump or a stump. Im working my ass off to be whereI need to be and thats really all I can do.

That the Giants are sticking Lincecum right back on themound Saturday indicates something else: that they arent hiding an injury.

It would be convenient, almost, if Lincecum had a sore elbowor a bad back or an aching shoulder or even a hangnail. But he said nothing iswrong. And he said he doesnt needto overhaul his mechanics.

I feel like its more of a fine-tune, he said. I mean,Ive always gone back to if Im hurt or something is wrong or I feel liketheres something painful in my body or theres inflammation there, thats aninclination that Im using bad mechanics.

So I feel its small things here and there that I just needto tinker with or find consistency with to find that fastball location, findthat secondary location. So thats pretty much it.

He isnt feeling any pain or inflammation?

No, thats one of the confusing things, he said. Im notgoing through any injuries or health issues or anything like that.

Its confusing to Lincecum, to his legions of fans, toBochy, to the front office and to all of the baseball establishment. Sometimesthere are no answers. Sometimes there is just fear pooling in the wrong places.

Lincecum will go to Seattle for the All-Star break his firsttime not representing the Giants at the Midsummer Classic since his rookie yearin 2007. He said he sees the second half as a chance for a fresh start.

But in the meantime, he will not take a mental break fromthe craft and the game he once dominated with poetic, balletic grace.

No, Im going to pick up a ball and keep my mind surroundedwith baseball, he said. I have to think about what Ive gone through in orderto remedy this.

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I'm catching a flight home (too bad no All-Star Game in KC for me ... I was looking forward to an in-depth interview with Arthur Bryant), so no time for an Extra Baggs file after the game. Look for my midseason coverage later in the week, and I'll catch up with you again in Atlanta. Please make sure to follow my CSN colleagues during the Houston series. As always, thanks for reading.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

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AP

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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USATSI

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.