Lincecum throws 41 pitches in return to the mound


Lincecum throws 41 pitches in return to the mound

SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum, wearing baggy shorts and a Team USA soccer shirt, bent over and picked up an orange Nike shoe box after his 41st pitch of a showcase at Scottsdale Stadium. He smiled as he walked off the field.

“No hitters got any hits, so that’s always positive,” he joked in an interview with CSN Bay Area a few minutes later. 

Lincecum is as free-spirited and relaxed as ever, and now teams will have to decide if he’s the same pitcher he used to be. The right-hander threw for more than 20 teams who came to see if the two-time Cy Young Award winner is back. The Giants were there, represented by assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley and others, but there was no need for the contingent to be bigger. 

Dick Tidrow, the organization’s pitching guru, and general manager Bobby Evans watched Lincecum privately 10 days ago. They have a pretty good idea of where he’s at and what kind of fit there is. Lincecum told CSN Bay Area’s Shawn Estes that the next step is meeting with his agent, Rick Thurman of Beverly Hill Sports Council.

“I’ll kind of get an idea of what’s going on and what people are saying and what people are looking for and which teams are looking for a guy like myself,” Lincecum said. “I’ll hopefully make a decision in the near future. This isn’t familiar territory for me, so I’ll probably get a little bit of help from (my agent) with what he thinks I should do.”

Lincecum said he would entertain all options, including starting out as a long reliever, but he still has a clear preference on what he wants to do. He feels he could step into a Triple-A rotation right now and throw five or six innings on his way back to the big leagues. 

“I think I know there are other teams (besides the Giants) out there that are looking for starters right now and I wouldn’t have to go to Triple-A and have to work my way behind somebody,” Lincecum said. “To be honest with you I’d rather start, but I know I need to get timing with others hitters in the box and work my way through it that way. 

“We’ll come to a decision here in the near future but I haven’t decided what’s the most important (thing) to me right now.”

Lincecum’s fastball was 90 to 92 with good life during his two innings in front of scouts Friday. Last season he topped out at 90.4 with an average of 87.5, and any team that signs Lincecum would surely expect the velocity to tick up a tiny bit when the adrenaline of a big league game kicks in.

Lincecum threw all his pitches, and his curveball appeared especially sharp. It is a pitch that his father, Chris, says looks better than it has in years. Scouts in attendance said Lincecum also repeated his complicated delivery well. 

“If anything I’ve simplified it a little bit with the new hip being able to stabilize my landing, which is a big part of what controls your hand and where the pitch is going to go,” Lincecum said. “It just feels more consistent … I’m not searching for that extra gear to try and throw harder anymore.”

Chris said he was “quite pleased, and so was everyone in the Lincecum camp.”

Lincecum has been working out in Arizona all winter in a bid to resume his career after September hip surgery. Friday’s showcase was originally supposed to take place in January or February, but it was repeatedly pushed back as Lincecum tried to get all the way back to 100 percent. The biggest takeaway for the Giants who watched the live stream Friday afternoon -- and there were many of them -- was that Lincecum looked healthy, something that thrilled the clubhouse. 

“I watched Timmy throw — he looked healthy and athletic,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s hard to tell from our view and what we have, but he did look healthy.”

The Giants do currently have five healthy starters, although only three have been effective. While team officials said Friday that they continue to view Lincecum as a reliever, patience is wearing thin with Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, who have combined to give up 56 earned runs in 60 innings.

The Giants have not tipped their hand, and neither has Lincecum. But no matter where he ends up, the Giants will be watching closely. 

“Regardless of what happens you’re going to root for Tim Lincecum,” Bochy said. “Nobody loves him more than I do.”

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

One week in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.