The Giants were given quite a scare last night when right-hander Tim Lincecum was hit in the inside of his left knee by a line drive off the bat of Athletics first baseman Daric Barton in the fourth inning and had to be helped off the field. However, it appears that things could have been much worse.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Lincecum was left with a contusion on his knee, but X-rays ruled out a fracture or any major structural damage. We’ll know a lot more about his status after he arrives to the ballpark today, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed optimism about his ability to make his season debut next Thursday against the Diamondbacks. If he’s unable to go, Yusmeiro Petit would fill in.
Lincecum, who signed a two-year, $35 million extension with the Giants in October, is coming off a 4.37 ERA and 193/76 K/BB ratio over 197 2/3 innings last season.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.