Lincecum struggles through another start
AP Baseball Writer
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Tim Lincecum’s 19-pitch first inning was an adventure.
A leadoff double to Ichiro Suzuki followed by a walk. A flyout, then a strikeout on a double steal. And a two-run single by – surprise – old San Francisco teammate Ryan Garko. Eric Byrnes eventually grounded out.
Lincecum, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, doesn’t quite look like himself yet at spring training and struggled through 2 2-3 innings in the Giants’ sloppy 6-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
He isn’t one bit worried.
The hard-throwing righty got Ryan Langerhans on a swinging strikeout to start his 17-pitch second on a change-up that bounced in front of the plate. Lincecum escaped the inning unscathed.
He is finding his balance, his rhythm – acknowledging perhaps that he’s even thinking about a few too many things at once when it comes to mastering his mechanics. He’s not concerned with results this early.
“Stuff wise I felt like everything was good,” Lincecum said. “I think right now everything is just location. I just try to take something positive from each outing. My curveball was breaking really well, the slider was doing well. The change-up when it was down was good, same with the fastball. The only time I really got hurt was Ichiro’s hit. … The key for me is rhythm. My mechanics kind of follow that.”
The 25-year-old right-hander had his second subpar outing in as many appearances against the team he once hoped to play for as a kid growing up in Seattle.
“That’s another thing that’s kind of getting old, too,” he said of being passed over by his hometown team.
Lincecum was tagged for six hits, struck out four and walked two in his 59-pitch day. He lowered his spring ERA by nearly half, from 18.00 to 9.82.
After Suzuki doubled to start the game, Lincecum retired him in fancy fashion the next time up. The pitcher fielded a one-hop grounder behind his back and threw to first.
The Giants’ defense didn’t do much to help Lincecum in this one, allowing a pair of unearned runs in the third – the second of which chased Lincecum.
“Off day,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “Timmy had a hard time getting the ball where he wanted. You’re going to have these days here, you know it. These fields, the sun, you’re going to have ugly games. That’s why we’re here.”
Both teams sent out nearly regular lineups, though the Giants agreed to use a designated hitter.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu is playing both Suzuki and new No. 2 hitter Chone Figgins for four straight days before getting three off when the team is in Tucson on Sunday and Monday followed by Tuesday’s off day.
They pulled off a double steal in the first inning – the first stolen base for both players this spring.
“Their top two guys, they’re going to be gnats,” Bochy said.
Figgins committed his first error of the spring when the second baseman fielded Aubrey Huff’s bouncing grounder to start the second but then dropped the ball.
Seattle starter Ian Snell was pleased with his fastball location and tempo in his second outing. The right-hander allowed one hit in three innings with a walk.
“I was just attacking the hitters, attacking the zone,” he said. “I’m getting into a little groove, working hard.”
San Francisco right fielder Nate Schierholtz was a late scratch, still feeling the effects of fouling a ball off his left knee during a simulated game Sunday and also falling backward and hitting his head on the batting cage. Schierholtz will be one of the only regulars to make the trip to Tucson on Friday to face Colorado.
NOTES: Seattle RHP reliever David Aardsma, who strained his right groin March 4, is scheduled to pitch second at home against Kansas City on Friday in his first action since the injury. Wakamatsu was impressed with Aardsma’s recent bullpen session. … Giants RHP reliever Joe Martinez is nursing tendinitis in the back of his throwing elbow and will take a few days to rest and let it calm down. He underwent an MRI exam and didn’t pitch Wednesday when he had been scheduled. “It’s not sore,” he said. “It’s something I kind of need to take care of now so it’s not a problem later.” … San Francisco 1B Travis Ishikawa, who tore two ligaments in his left toe before the start of spring training when he slipped down the stairs in his home, began running straight away again Wednesday but is still yet to face live pitching. He hopes to get into some minor league games next week. … The Giants fell to 5-1 at Scottsdale Stadium, where the Mariners have won four of their last five exhibition contests.