Lincecum edging closer to October readiness


Lincecum edging closer to October readiness


SAN FRANCISCO Tim Lincecum reached a benchmark Tuesdaynight, and not just for himself while shutting out the Colorado Rockies in a6-3 victory.

Lincecum won his 10th game, becoming the fifthand final member of the Giants rotation to record double-digit victories.

The last time the Giants had five 10-game winners on staffwas in 2002, when they came within six outs of a World Series championship.

But the Giants didnt get within a breath of the trophya decade ago because Livan Hernandez, Kirk Rueter, Jason Schmidt, Russ Ortiz and Ryan Jensendominated in the postseason. They rode a humming offense, so loud it was barely street legal, with Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent firing like pistons.

It was a series dominated by big hits, big rallies, biggerhits and bigger rallies.

It was not the way most World Series are won.

No, the blueprint was, is and continues to be startingpitching, followed by airtight relief. Its about getting the matchups in the lateinnings. And its deep, dominant outings from the rotation that allows thosematchups to happen.

So the Giants understand that they need more than aserviceable Tim Lincecum if they want to be practical about shedding a postseason opponent or three.They might just need the pitcher who struck out 14 and threw a one-hitter inGame 1 of the 2010 NLDS vs. Atlanta.

They might not have that Lincecum again. But Tuesday night,they saw something that could work.

Lincecum went with the sinker-slider format and the Rockiesplayed into it during his 6 13 scoreless innings. He retired 11 consecutive atone stretch, with only one of those outs in the air.

What does that tell him?

Stuffs moving down, Lincecum said. Slider, sinker iswhat I went to today. Those are pitches Ive gotta work in to avoid those bighits and home runs. Some of them turn into strikeouts and some turn into greatplays by the infield.

The sum of them turn into a standing ovation, which is whatLincecum received as he walked off the mound. Jeremy Affeldt got thedouble-play grounder that ensured Lincecums ERA would fall (down to 4.91,below 5.00 for the first time this season, which induced a whoop-de-do armraise from Lincecum when informed of that afterwards).

It was Lincecums first home victory since July 31.

It just felt good being home, he said. Obviously, thispark helps, and having that crowd behind you, it gets you in your element. Itdefinitely helps you rise to the occasion in the big innings.

Its getting darker earlier and theres a familiar chill inthe air at China Basin. Postseason baseball is coming, to borrow a phrase fromNed Stark, and for all his problems with midterms, Lincecum always has aced thefinal.

The Giants will begin to order their postseason rotationsoon, and dont be surprised if Lincecum draws the No. 3 slot behind Matt Cainand Madison Bumgarner. The Giants are likely to open as the No. 3 seed againstCincinnati or Washington and play the first two at home before going on theroad. Its worth pointing out that Lincecum has won his last five road starts.

And if he can stay with his sinkerslider approach, perhapshe wont need the ample dimensions of AT&T Park to keep the ball from reachingthe seats.

That discussion aside, home and road matter less thanLincecum simply finding himself on the mound again. He isnt all the way backyet.

To get to that point where everything feels like it works byitself I havent gotten to that point yet, he said.

And yet he is so far from where he stood at the All-Starbreak.

Just focusing on that second half has alleviated thatpressure to do what I needed to be doing or what everybody thought I needed tobe doing, he said. Its about making good pitches and getting outs. Really,thats all theyre asking me to do. Thats all I need to do.

A final thought, Bruce Bochy?

You know, Timmys tough when hes on his game. And hes onit now, the manager said. Its good for all of us, believe me, to see himpitch like this.

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.