Bochy on Lincecum: 'What great athlete hasn't had ups and downs?'
Tim Lincecum's 2012 regular season: 33 starts, 10-15, 5.18 ERA. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Programming note: For all the latest from Giants spring training, tune in to Raising Arizona, tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
Scottsdale, Ariz. – Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are among the pitchers scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound on Wednesday, when the Giants stage their first workout as defending World Series champions in 2013.
There won’t be a radar gun trained on the pitchers, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy isn’t interested in how hard they’re throwing – even in the case of Lincecum, whose downturn in velocity has been well documented.
“I don’t look at velocity – I don’t,” said Bochy, asked about how he’ll evaluate Lincecum. “It’s always location. Pitchers will settle in at a velocity . They won’t throw what they came up throwing, whether it’s 94 or 98. They all settle in at a velocity with their workload and that’s where Timmy is now.”
Lincecum has said repeating his complicated mechanics is the biggest key to reestablishing himself after a dreadful regular season in 2012, and stronger legs is a big part of that. He’s by far the most intriguing storyline to follow on a team where even the lone new guy (Andres Torres) is only returning from a one-year absence.
His ability to throw strikes consistently will be scrutinized from the get-go.
Bochy hasn’t named an opening day starter but said he has “a good idea.” He just needs to clear it with pitching coach Dave Righetti and inform the starter.
I tried to find Matt Cain to speed up the process, but he was back in the weight room.
There are so many pitchers in camp (37) that there will be three bullpen groups every day instead of two. (Pitchers throw every other day at the beginning of the spring.)
Left-hander Javier Lopez is listed to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, but there’s a reason those rosters are listed as provisional.
Lopez might decide to stay in Scottsdale if he feels he cannot get ready in time.
“I played in 2009 and it’s a great experience, but I won't go if I don’t feel I’m ready,” Lopez said. “It’s tough on pitchers, especially in the bullpen. Here, you can prepare easily and get work every couple days. (In the WBC), it’s win or go home, so it’s tougher to get the reps you want. … And getting ready for the season, for the Giants, is the priority for me.”
Lopez said he has no physical limitations and expected to have a smooth spring, so there were no health considerations. He planned to make a decision within a few weeks to be as fair to Puerto Rico club officials as possible.
If Lopez stays, he’ll get to pitch whenever he wants. Most of his bullpen mates are going, including Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Jose Mijares. Of course, they’re all provisionally listed, too.
“What we have to monitor more than anything is to make sure these gusy are ready when they leave,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will lose his WBC players in the first week of March. “Now, it does make it easier when you pretty much have the same club as last year. Guys aren’t getting to know each other, so this time is not as vital.”
Bochy said it’s a good sign so many position players have reported early, including a few whom the organization requested arrive ahead of schedule to get a head start on conditioning work. (Bochy wouldn’t name names.)
There’s another reason so many position guys are here early, besides the fact that many live in the Phoenix area in the offseason: Because FanFest was held a week late, the Giants chartered a flight from San Francisco.
Bochy already spoke to players at FanFest about enjoying what they’ve accomplished, especially after a second World Series in three years, but that it’s time to focus forward.
He said he still has to remind himself at times because the twin accomplishments are so unbelievable. But this offseason wasn’t much different than after the club won in 2010. One notable change came at the winter meetings, though.
“The first year, they come up to say congratulations,” Bochy said. “The second time, they’re mad at you. It’s like, `Wait a minute, you’re ball hogging now.’”
Winning two titles in three years has its privileges. Bochy got to play Augusta National a week before taking part in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. There was just one problem: He hadn’t picked up a golf club in awhile.
“I hadn’t played golf in five years and I ended up playing Augusta and Pebble in a week,” Bochy said. “I think I hit a thousand balls a day, and my body felt it. I’m not sure how much good it did.”
Pretty good, apparently. Bochy shot an 86 at Augusta and an 89 at Pebble.
“That’s from the member’s tees,” he said.
I’d take that from the nine-hole executive tees.
Bochy almost took off a spectator’s head in the gallery at Pebble, but the Giants still won their match play challenge with 49ers representatives after Ryan Vogelsong prevailed in a tiebreaker chip-off.
Bochy does not plan to change the workout schedule much. Players will be on the field at 10 a.m. – later than when most clubs start their workouts. The later start time was adopted a few years ago “to give the frost on the field time to thaw.”
Although that might be a dubious reason, you won’t get any complaints from your friendly neighborhood beat writers – and it should be pointed out that yes, there was frost on the field Tuesday morning, as overnight lows dipped to the low 30s.
A father/son game of catch is usually a nice moment, but it meant more to Brett Bochy over the past few weeks. He was getting his arm in shape for his first big league spring training after receiving a non-roster invitation.
“It’s going to be good to see him, and it’s a little added stress,” the senior Bochy said. “But he’s earned this invite. He’s had a lot to overcome with this Tommy John surgery and I look forward to watching him.”
Brett Bochy’s stuff doesn’t turn heads, but he put up great numbers as the closer at Double-A Richmond last season, and he misses a lot of bats with his ability to change speeds. There are some things to clean up in his delivery, though – and durability is a question. So Bruce looked forward to his son receiving instruction from major league coaches.
Hunter Pence said he’s only seen one replay of his famous triple-hit double in the NLCS.
“You see it one time and you’re absolutely confused,” Pence said. “No need to see it again.”
Assuming Ryan Theriot doesn’t circle back to the Giants, someone else will have to step up as the fashion risk taker in the clubhouse. New infielder Kensuke Tanaka might be an early candidate, if only because his first name is embroidered on the back pocket of his jeans.
One other clubhouse pastime I’ll miss: Predicting Guillermo Mota’s entrance time every morning. He was always the last to arrive, but never a minute late.