Notes: Giants shut down Lincecum
Club wants to preserve young right-hander for next season
SAN FRANCISCO -- Don't panic, Tim "The Franchise" Lincecum isn't hurt, but he was scratched from his next start and shut down for the rest of the season to ensure he'll be ready to get the Giants back on track next year.The Giants are determined to turn things around next season, and manager Bruce Bochy expects Lincecum to be a big part of, if not lead, that turnaround. With that in mind, Bochy decided keeping Lincecum in for his last two starts this season wasn't worth the risk. "We just added it all up and said, 'You know what, there's just not enough to gain by throwing him out there the next couple of starts,'" Bochy said. "This guy's too valuable to us. He's our future, and we'll just go ahead and rest him up and get him ready for next year." Patrick Misch will take over Lincecum's Friday start, but Bochy stressed that Lincecum's early exit has nothing to do with injury and more to do with the amount of work he's already put in. Despite coming up almost two months into the season, Lincecum logged 146 1/3 innings after 24 starts. He also leads National League rookies in strikeouts with 150 and is second with a .226 batting average against and seven wins. "He's done a terrific job," Bochy said. "Here's a kid that just signed last year, and he's been a tremendous help in the rotation. That doesn't happen very often.
"It shows you the talent that he has. How fast of a pace he was on to get up here, and not only get up here, but to pitch the way he did. That's why we're so optimistic about getting this turned around -- because of Timmy."Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Barry Zito will be a big part of that turnaround, too, Bochy said, and perhaps so will Misch, who has already shown he can be a reliable pitcher, posting a 4.46 ERA in his two starts. Sunday's starter is still undecided, but Scott Atchison is a leading candidate as the Giants will likely resort to using a member of the bullpen. Lowry throws: Lowry looked sharp on Thursday as he stretched out his injured left elbow while throwing on flat ground for the first time since straining it on Aug. 29 against the Rockies. Bochy said Lowry felt fine after throwing, but he will remain benched for the rest of the season. First out is toughest: Randy Messenger said it was a big relief on Wednesday night when he recorded his first out in his third appearance since returning from surgery.
Messenger was roughed up in the first two return trips to the mound, allowing three runs in both outings, but he finally got an out when it mattered most. Messenger inherited runners on second and third with no outs in the fifth inning on Wednesday and pitched his way out of Zito's jam without allowing a run."I was more determined to get the next guy out," Messenger said. "That's the hardest thing when you first come back -- trying to get that first out." First start is biggest: Eugenio Velez was starting to get worried that he might not get a start before season's end, but the waiting came to an end on Wednesday, when Velez made his first Major League start at second base, batting second in the lineup. "It's my first time in the big leagues, and I'm a little bit nervous, but I think I'm going to be fine," Velez said. Velez didn't look nervous when he ripped a single up the spine in his first at-bat and then stole second. The speedy infielder was three-quarters of the way down the basepath before the ball even reached the catcher, who didn't even bother to throw down to second. Lewis on deck: Outfielder Fred Lewis is expected to rejoin the Giants sometime in the next two days. Lewis was put on the 15-day disabled list in August after straining his side and spent September rehabilitating at Class A, helping the San Jose Giants win the California League championship. Bonds' big toe: Bochy is optimistic that Barry Bonds will be back in the lineup for the Giants' series finale against the Reds on Sunday. Bonds has been out with a sprained big toe on his right foot. Up next: Misch (0-3, 2.90 ERA) will make his third start of the season on Friday, starting the second game of a four-game series against Cincinnati at 7:15 p.m. PT. Misch will be opposed by right-hander Matt Belisle (8-9, 5.39).
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.