Tim Lincecum’s spring troubles worrisome

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Tim Lincecum gave up five runs in three innings of work against the Oakland Athletics this afternoon, raising his spring ERA to 10.97 and his WHIP to 2.25. Coming off a season in which he finished with a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts, Lincecum’s performance thus far has not given anybody reason for optimism.

CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reports that neither Lincecum nor his manager are particularly worried, even with a possibility the Giants right-hander joins his team after the regular season begins:

Bochy said Lincecum was “just off today” but didn’t express much outward concern, saying he was encouraged by the right-hander’s previous two outings.

I asked Bochy: Is there a good chance Lincecum could stay back when camp breaks and face minor leaguers rather than pitch against the A’s on Thursday at China Basin?

“We haven’t talked about that,” Bochy said. “Have him throw a bullpen and go back out there. That’s what you do. Today, he was out of sync. It was obvious from the start.”

Fortunately for the Giants, they have two of the better starters in the game in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, so they won’t be set too far behind by Lincecum’s lagging performance. This is an important season for Lincecum as he is eligible for free agency after the season.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.