Tim Lincecum arrived in Scottsdale last month with high hopes. After two down seasons, Lincecum wanted to leave the Cactus League with respectable numbers and joked about his desire to grow a memorable mustache.
Five weeks later, the hair on Lincecum's upper lip would make Tom Selleck proud, but his spring ERA grew just as quickly.
Lincecum couldn't make it out of the fifth inning Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, giving up seven runs on 11 hits, including three homers in the Giants' 13-9 victory. After allowing just two runs in his first three spring starts, the right-hander was charged with 12 runs over 10 innings in his final two outings in the desert. Lincecum will head home with a 6.52 ERA, but manager Bruce Bochy wants him to hone in on a different number: In 19? spring innings, Lincecum has walked just five, a far cry from past springs.
"Today certainly inflated (the ERA), but I really liked, for the most part, where he was with his pitches" this spring, Bochy said. "He has kept the ball down and commanded the fastball. Usually in the spring, that's what he battles. For the most part he has been pretty good with his command. Today he was just off."
In search of easier outs and quicker innings, Lincecum has hoped to pitch to contact more often this season. The Royals took advantage of that approach Sunday. A Lorenzo Cain triple brought the first run home and Salvador Perez put the Royals up 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. With two outs in the fifth, Jason Donald poked a three-run shot into the right field bullpen. Carlos Peguero followed with a solo blast that landed near the top of the grass berm in right-center field.
Lincecum said his body started "drifting" toward the plate, causing him to leave too many balls up in the zone. With one start left before the regular season, Lincecum remains confident he can find consistency.
"Even today with the scuffles, those were things I can fix," he said. "They put some good swings on pitches, and you've got to tip your cap there. But I can still work out of those things a little better than I did today. Right now, it's about locking into the season and trying to get out of that spring training mode you kind of get into."
SANDOVAL ISN'T TALKING
Pablo Sandoval smiled and shook his head when asked about the state of extension talks between the Giants and his agent, Gustavo Vasquez. "No comment," Sandoval said.
The third baseman said he isn't involved in the negotiating and has told Vasquez not to bring it up unless a good offer is on the table. According to CSNBayArea.com, the Giants made a three-year, $40 million offer Friday that was rejected by Sandoval's side.