Tim Lincecum “open to changes”, including a future as a reliever

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In an exclusive with CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, Giants starter Tim Lincecum says that although he is presently committed to starting so long as his team needs him — and with an injured Ryan Vogelsong and struggling Matt Cain, they do — he is open to converting fully as a reliever in the future. Lincecum currently has a 5.12 ERA in 11 starts, continuing the struggles that led to a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts last year. The Giants used him out of the bullpen in five of his six post-season appearances, however, and the right-hander allowed one run in 13 innings.

Lincecum spoke to the differences between starting and relieving:

“Out of the bullpen, your focus is different,” Lincecum said. “You’re not thinking about lasting. It’s, `Go until they tell you to stop.’ When you’re starting, when you see your pitch count go up in a bad inning, that can be at the forefront of your brain. You know it’s going to (limit how deep you can go). So I guess you could say it’s a lack of pressing, when you’re relieving.”

Lincecum is eligible for free agency after the season. Considering his recent adversity as a starter, you have to imagine potential suitors are viewing him more as a reliever than as a starter if they are even considering signing him at all.

MRI reveals rib inflammation for Anthony Rizzo

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Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed rib inflammation on his left side, Maddie Lee of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Rizzo has been dealing with back soreness for the last week and has missed several intrasquad games as a result.

Rizzo is unsure if he can avoid opening the regular season on the injured list. He said, “I’ll do everything I can to stay off of it, obviously. … Every game’s important. So, we’ve got to get off to a good start and hopefully I’m out there with the guys. I plan on it, but you can’t control it and you’ve got to be smart.”

Rizzo, who turns 31 years old next month, is coming off of another highly productive season in which he hit .293/.405/.520 with 27 home runs, 94 RBI, and 89 runs scored over 613 plate appearances. In the event he needs to open the season on the IL, Victor Caratini figures to get the first crack at handling first base.

The Cubs missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2014, finishing in third place with a 84-78 record. Rizzo, no doubt, will play a big role if the Cubs are to find themselves back in the postseason.