SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It isn't a devastating development for right-hander Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants, but the cut that has opened up on the middle finger of his pitching hand is a cause for concern.
The two-time defending National league Cy Young Award winner left Friday's game against the Los Angeles Angels after throwing 84 pitches in four innings -- about two fewer innings than planned.He was trailing 1-0 when he departed, but the Giants rallied for three runs in the eighth inning for a 5-3 victory.Lincecum gave up a run on six hits while walking two and striking out seven. He is 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in four starts this spring after signing a two-year, $23 million contract shortly before reporting to camp.He said he is at about 85 percent ready in terms of his confidence to start the season, but didn't mention the cut to reporters. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the primary culprit is the dry Arizona air."It happened last year, too," Bochy said.Lincecum left the dry conditions for the Bay Area and went 15-7 with a 2.84 ERA last season.Bochy admitted "there is a little concern" about what he called "the rip," but said he doesn't think it will affect Lincecum's final start of the spring in a minor-league game on March 31. The Giants play the NL West-rival Los Angeles Dodgers that day, but Bochy does not want Lincecum facing them.Lincecum still is on track to start the season opener at Houston on April 5."Today was a good outing for him," Bochy said. "He kept the ball down better and had better command of his pitches."Lincecum said he threw some really good pitches."I threw more strikes with my fastball," he said.He seemed to enjoy his two matchups against World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, who left the New York Yankees to sign with the Angels as a free agent. Lincecum got Matsui to swing and miss at a two-strike change-up in the first inning, and struck him out again on a fastball down and away in the third."I haven't gotten the chance to see him," Lincecum said.The Angels scored twice in the seventh inning for a 3-2 lead.Reserve catchers played primary roles in the Giants' rally. A ground-rule double by Buster Posey tied it, and a two-run single by Steve Holm gave the Giants the lead.Veteran right-hander Guillermo Mota pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save and enhanced his chances of earning a middle-relief spot.
The same two teams meet again Saturday at the Angels' home in Tempe, Ariz., a game that will feature a duel between left-handers: the Angels' Joe Saunders and the Giants' Barry Zito. ... OF Darren Ford, the Giants' most pleasant surprise during the spring, was optioned to Double-A Richmond. He has not played above Class A. ... The Giants optioned OF Francisco Peguero Class A San Jose, and INF Jesus Guzman and RHP Tony Pena Jr. were reassigned to minor-league camp.