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03/26/10 9:29 PM ET
Lincecum still working out kinks
Giants ace likely won't face Dodgers in final spring start
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum has one dress rehearsal left, and he admitted that he doesn't know all his lines yet. Lincecum allowed only one run in four innings in the Giants' 5-3 Cactus League victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, but allowed six hits and walked two -- though he did strike out seven. The Giants ace said afterward that he's "85 percent sure with my body of what I'm doing out there and confidence-wise. Hopefully that last tuneup job will help." He admitted that he's progressing "a little slower than I wanted to." Lincecum's final exhibition outing before he starts the April 5 regular-season opener at Houston won't be a high-profile appearance. Though his next scheduled turn would arrive next Wednesday, when the Giants play their Cactus League finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's virtually certain to pitch a Minor League exhibition or intrasquad game instead. This would serve a dual purpose. It would prevent the Dodgers from getting a studied look at Lincecum before the regular season, and it would enable the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner to address his pitching flaws in a relaxed atmosphere. Manager Bruce Bochy admitted that the Giants would prefer to "hide" Lincecum from the Dodgers, whom he's likely to face during an April 16-18 series at Los Angeles. "A lot of teams decide to go that route," Bochy said. As for pitching against Minor League competition, Bochy said, "It's easier for him to [work on things] down there." Hence, Lincecum could enter the regular season having pitched only 11 2/3 innings against Major League competition spanning four starts, though he did trim his ERA from 9.39 to 6.94. Lincecum said that he's still striving to gain command of his fastball and indicated that he can accomplish this regardless of whom he faces. "It's [a matter of] getting somebody in there who's swinging and somebody who's live [in a game situation]," Lincecum said. Lincecum left Friday's game after throwing 84 pitches and developing a tiny cut on the middle finger of his throwing hand. Bochy, who said that Lincecum would have gone out for the fifth inning without the cut, allowed that there's "a little concern" that the right-hander won't be able to pitch next Wednesday. But, Bochy concluded, "We're pretty confident he will make it."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.