Giants

Lincecum refuses to be the wimpy kid against Phillies

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Lincecum refuses to be the wimpy kid against Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA This little corner of the baseball world offBroad Street has never been praised for its gentility, and Tim Lincecum knows it. There have beentaunts, wolf whistles and hurtful signs that scream, fix your teeth.

So when Tim Lincecum had his doh moment in the third inninghere, turning toward the dugout after recording only the second out, he couldhave flinched as the crowd rose up. He could have reacted like he was standingin the shadow of the playground bully.

He could have gone all wimpy.

Instead, this: I thought I could just laugh about it. Itwas a funny situation. They were kind of like all together, What the hell isthis guy doing? I was like, All right, Im a (freaking) idiot for a minute,lets go back to the mound.

Does that sound like a self-assured, assertive person? Doesit sound like someone who literally could fall down in mid-delivery for a balkthat brought in a run, as he did in the fourth inning, then bang out that embarrassment like it was a clod ofmud in his spikes?

Does it sound like the Lincecum, so comfortable in his skin,that the Giants once knew so well?

Thats what they got Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.Lincecum didnt post his most impressive linescore of 2012 but might have set aseason high for smarts, spirit and spunk in a 7-2 victory over the PhiladelphiaPhillies.

This time, he stayed out of the big inning. He didnt givein with a runner in scoring position in the fourth, issuing walks to HunterPence and Shane Victorino rather than lay one in there. He didnt fold from thestretch.

He was asked: Was that middle-in fastball to PlacidoPolanco, the one that resulted in an easy forceout for Pablo Sandoval, theturning-point pitch hes been missing?

Its not one pitch, he said. Its every pitch that leadsup to it. If not for my fastball command, guys might have been sitting on myoffspeed pitches and crushing it.

Lincecum was able to establish his fastball command early,which meant he had another route to take the next time through the lineup. ThePhillies couldnt eliminate pitches when they saw Lincecum for a second time.He had the upper hand, and the ability to make the next adjustment. And hestayed ahead of the game, as hes done so well over his career.

He got into a jam and thats the Timmy we know, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said. We saw it last year. We saw it again tonight.

I noticed that his last start. He had a different look.Hes pitching with confidence. He didnt get flustered by anything.

All of the sudden, the Giants have won in four of Lincecumslast six starts. That sounds relatively unremarkable for a two-time Cy YoungAward winner. But consider that the Giants had dropped nine in a row beforethat.

Im not saying it means Im back, said Lincecum, throwingout some air quotes. Im just trying to get that consistency and use that as aspringboard. Its just trying to buckle down in those crunch situations andnot worry about what bad can happen to me, which is what Ive been doing.

Weve mentioned several times where the Giants would be inthe standings if they were just a .500 team in Lincecums starts. This season,he might not win back those were going to win today feelings thataccompanied most of his starts in a Giants uniform. His struggles in the firstthree months were too shocking, too pronounced and too deep. There will be some shred of doubt for the rest of this season, at least.

But if the Giants can have a Lincecum who is able to laughat himself, who can make the competition be about those 60 feet, 6 inches insteadof the smaller space between his ears, and who can leave baserunners standing like 7-10 splits after he grinds through that third out, then that really does portend goodthings. The Giants really could get on quite a handsome roll.

In short order, they could become the bullies of the NL West.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

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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

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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.