Did Tim Lincecum throw out a "juiced ball" Friday night?

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Maybe, but let’s start with what we know to be true.

Tim Lincecum allowed just two hits over eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Rockies last night. As a result, the Giants enter play Saturday with a one-game advantage over the Padres in the win column while the fading Rockies sit 3 1/2 games back in the division and four back in the Wild Card. Barring a minor miracle, the Rockies are just about done.

OK, here’s the (potential) funny business. You may recall that earlier this week, Craig informed us about some chatter that the Rockies may be slipping some non-humidor balls into circulation at opportune moments. Only adding to the controversy is the fact that the Rockies have a 51-25 (.671) record at home and a lowly 31-46 (.403) record on the road this season.

The Giants haven’t issued a formal complaint in regards to the humidor, but Lincecum may have suspected something during the sixth inning of last night’s game. The Giants’ ace was spotted evidently mouthing the words “juiced balls” as he tossed a ball back to home plate umpire Laz Diaz. Mark Townsend of Bugs and Cranks has video of moment in question, though probably for a limited time only. It sure looks it.

According to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse, Lincecum did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on what he may have said, but for now, the conspiracy theory lives on. 

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).