Tim Lincecum starts and Buster Posey sits

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Here we go again: the Tim Lincecum-Buster Posey pairing the Giants did their best to avoid throughout the second half of last season was supposed to be back on this year. Manager Bruce Bochy was very clear on that both over the winter and this spring. And, yet, Hector Sanchez will catch Lincecum for the second straight start Tuesday.

The Giants had a good excuse for not using Posey in Lincecum’s first start: Brandon Belt was sick and the team had the hole at first base anyway. This time, it’s being played as just a routine day off for Posey. But it’s obvious that the Giants are actively trying to stay away from the pairing.

Often working with Posey, Lincecum had a dreadful spring, giving up 18 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. However, in his season debut last week with Sanchez behind the plate, he held the Dodgers to a pair of unearned runs over five innings in a win, though he did walk seven batters. As Grant Brisbee points out over at McCovey Chronicles, some of those walks could be blamed on Sanchez.

Some have suggested there’s real animosity between Lincecum and Posey, but both have denied that. Obviously, it’d be in Lincecum’s best interests to be on the same page with Posey; taking his bat or Brandon Belt’s out of the lineup cuts back on run support. Besides, Posey is a better defensive catcher than Sanchez. But if Lincecum is that much more comfortable with Sanchez, it’s probably not worth it for Bochy to force the issue right now.

Last year, Lincecum had a 5.46 ERA in 15 outings with Posey behind the plate, compared to a 4.87 ERA in 16 outings with Sanchez. He didn’t seem to have any difficulties with Posey before that. In 2011, Lincecum had a 1.55 ERA in nine games with Posey before Posey got hurt. In 2010, he was better with Bengie Molina behind the plate (3.23 ERA to 3.76 ERA).

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.