SAN FRANCISCO — Whether he's dealing with the lineup, bullpen roles or starting assignments, Bruce Bochy often states that he won't mess with something that's working.
This week, that mantra will keep Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey together once again. Posey is scheduled to catch Lincecum for a second straight time, Bochy said, after a long stretch where Hector Sanchez was the right-hander's de facto personal catcher. Bochy liked Lincecum's mound presence in his last start and said, "I think Buster was a part of that."
"Any time a pitcher throws well, certainly the catcher deserves credit," Bochy said. "I thought they got in sync."
Lincecum had thrown to San-chez in his first three starts and the Giants won all three even as Lincecum struggled to find a consistent approach. Posey was behind the plate Saturday as Lincecum went 6?2/3 shutout innings against the San Diego Padres, striking out eight.
The two will be back together Friday night for the opener of a three-game series with the Padres at Petco Park.
"(Lincecum) is really close and had the one-inning hiccups in previous games," Bochy said. "His command and tempo were really good in his last start, and that's what we'd like to see on Friday."
Lincecum is 11-5 all-time against the Padres with a 2.33 ERA.
Shortstop Brandon Crawford and right fielder Hunter Pence are the only two Giants to make every start through 22 games, a pace that's not all that unfamiliar for Pence. Crawford, however, is on track to shatter his career high of 122 starts, set a year ago. Bochy doesn't plan on giving his 26-year-old shortstop a day off anytime soon, either.
"He's young, he can handle it," Bochy said. "He can handle going out there every day." Bochy said he would like Crawford, Pence and center fielder Angel Pagan to cross the 150-start mark this season. If Crawford keeps his current pace for anywhere close to 150 games, he'll wind up as an MVP candidate.
Heading into the off day, Crawford leads the Giants in average (.320) and OPS (.966) and is tied with Pence with four homers. The Gold Glove-caliber shortstop has scored 15 runs and driven in 10 while mostly hitting directly in front of the pitcher's spot.
"I'm changing my approach a little bit, but my swing isn't changing," Crawford said.
" After several intensive cage sessions with Bochy and hitting coach Hensley Meulens, first baseman Brandon Belt was 4 for 7 against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a game-winning single, a homer and a well-struck double.
"He's been working hard and quieting things down," Bochy said. "He seems to be much more relaxed and a little quieter (at the plate)."
Belt has just five extra-base hits this season, but the Giants believe he is close to finding the form that resulted in seven homers in the Cactus League.
Bochy said Belt got out of whack with his swing and was having trouble catching up to pitches because he was moving forward in the box too much.
"He was taking away from his strength," Bochy said.
The mini-hot streak raised Belt's average from .183 to .224 and had Bochy joking that he might too valuable as a late-innings masher.