Lincecum impressive again
After revamping his offseason workout regimen, signs of the old Tim Lineceum are surfacing. The former ace turned in his second straight impressive start in Surprise on Friday, shutting the Royals down over three frames, allowing just 2 hits with no walks or strikeouts. It took him just 35 pitches to get through the three innings of work, which shows growth in itself. Through his first two starts this spring, Lincecum looks like he's more focused on throwing to contact and keeping hitters off balance than he is on throwing the ball by the hitters. He said at the beginning of spring that his goal this spring was to get quick efficient innings under his belt before flying north to start the year, and so far he's stayed true to form. One of his major problems over the last couple of years has been that long, laboring inning in which he's had to throw 25+ pitches far too often, which drains his arm, makes him less effective and forces him to leave games after five innings of work. I'm not how much input Tim Hudson has had on Lincecum's new approach on the mound, but the younger Tim certainly appears to be picking some things up from his elder. Through two starts to begin the Cactus League, Lincecum has now gone 5 scoreless, allowing 3 hits and a walk to go with a strikeout. Not quite the dominant pre-2012 Lincecum, but just as efficient, if not more so.
It hasn't just been Lincecum either. Each of the Giants' five projected starters all have at least one start under their belt so far, some two, and all have shown up ready to prove last season was a fluke rather than the start of a downward trend. Their newest addition has been as impressive as any, as he's thrown 5 scoreless innings himself over two starts and he's allowed only 2 hits with 4 strikeouts. I know it's early, and we're still 3 weeks out from opening day, but things are definitely looking up in terms of the starting rotation.
As far as the everyday lineup is concerned, there are some questions surrounding one player in particular, and that guy is Marco Scutaro. The 38 year-old veteran has yet to appear in a spring game and Bruce Bochy said Friday he doesn't have an exact timetable for Scutaro to make his spring debut and they could start to explore the possibility of starting the year without him. Scutaro believes he'll be ready to play in the next week or so, but reports are that he still hasn't taken batting practice and has done little to no work with the bat at all yet since arriving in Scottsdale last month. In Scutaro's absence guys like Mark Minicozzi and Ehire Adrianza have been getting some extra looks, and both have been among the better stories in camp this spring. In case the Giants are forced to start the year with Scutaro on the DL, it looks like Adrianza still would have the leg up on securing a roster spot just cause he's got that slick glove and a rapidly improving bat (not to mention he's out of options). Nine-year Minor League veteran Minicozzi and his team-leading 2 HR and .429 average are slowly gaining some steam though.
Right now, the two closest battles for positional roster space are that 5th outfielder and 2nd utility guy behind Joaquin Arias. Tony Abreu and Juan Perez are sort of penciled into those spots, with Tyler Colvin and Adrianza each on their heels. If the season started Monday though, the incumbents would most likely stake claim to those two spots, but there is still plenty of spring to go, and those spots, especially that fifth outfield role, are still very much up for the taking.
Extras: The rest of the Giants' projected lineup has started out well for the most part. Michael Morse (who's numbers would look a lot better had it not been for Josh Reddick), and Brandon Crawford have been a little slow out of the gate, but it's so early that there is no concern there... The slimmed down Panda sure looks good, both at the plate and in the field. He's leading the Giants with five RBI so far... Also, Angel Pagan, who was so sorely missed for most of last season, has looked good himself, batting .357 through his first five contests.