Blog Entry

Giants look to keep pitching sharp year later

Posted on: April 8, 2011 12:36 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 12:52 pm
 

The season following their 2005 World Series triumph, the pitching-strong White Sox were flat.

The season following his World Series MVP appearance, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels was flat.

There's no question that an extra month's pitching in October, with intense pressure riding on every pitch, sometimes grinds down even the best rotations.

And as the world champion Giants head toward their home opener Friday following a tough (2-3) opening trip, they're determined that their most precious asset -- their starting pitching -- will remain their strength.

Tim Lincecum, with a second consecutive impressive start in Wednesday's 8-4 pummeling of the Padres (13 strikeouts and no walks over seven innings), already is strong out of the gate. As for the overall rotation, while the Giants aren't taking any drastic measures, they've been subtly watching things all spring.

"We didn't push [the starters] once the games started in terms of pitch count," Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "We kept it to a minimum."

Specifically, Righetti said, the Giants monitored their pitchers when runners were on base this spring and throwing from a stretch was required. They also kept Lincecum to 22 2/3 spring innings and Jonathan Sanchez to 20. Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito each worked 27 1/3, while Matt Cain, who was slowed by a sore elbow early in camp, worked just 13 1/3 Cactus League innings.

"We're all in the business. We've been in it our whole life," Righetti said. "We understand that pitching that extra month is a grind. The effects, when the effects are going to happen, we'll see. You can't avoid it."

One thing the Giants are doing now is to stay on a five-man rotation in the early part of the season even with five days off within the season's first 31 days. Instead of skipping the No. 5 starter -- Bumgarner in this case -- San Francisco is opting for an extra day's rest for Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain and Zito.

Plus, there might be another benefit to that later, too.

"If there are any effects, you'll see it toward the end of the year, not now," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We'll keep a watchful eye.

"That's one reason we put Bumgarner in the fifth spot. We felt if we needed to give him a break, it would be easier to do from there.

"We'll monitor where we're at during the season, and who may need a break."

Though they are heading into the unknown this season in that they've never defended a World Series title since moving to San Francisco in 1958, the one thing the Giants hope they are certain of is how to handle pitching.

"Arms are precious," Righetti said. "You've got to watch every practice, every day. That doesn't change."

Likes: The Pirates donating leftover food from concession stands to local shelters and soup kitchens to feed the hungry. Best idea of the season, and I hope other teams follow. ... Day baseball in April. ... Home openers. ... If you're not checking out our Eye on Baseball blog several times a day, you're missing out. ... The Lincoln Lawyer. Very enjoyable flick.

Dislikes: Tough break for the Twins, losing second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioki to a fractured left fibula.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You can't have any pudding
"If you don't eat your meat
"How can you have any pudding
"If you don't eat your meat?"

-- Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall

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