Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Tuesday night's loss to the Brewers that he was considering skipping Lincecum's turn in the rotation his next time up. But after some mulling, Bochy decided to stay put with the rotation.
With an off-day Thursday, Barry Zito, Wednesday's starter, could start in place of Lincecum on Monday against the Padres on regular rest. But Matt Cain and Matt Morris, San Francisco's starters in the first two games of its upcoming series against the Yankees, would then have to go on three days' rest, if Lincecum missed his start.
Either that or Bochy could bump Lincecum back a day, but he didn't see the point in that.
"We're not doing anything right now," Bochy said. "We'll just keep them in that order."
The Giants tried that tactic with Cain last year, when the big right-hander stumbled to a 1-5 record with a 7.04 ERA in his first seven starts. Cain skipped a start and pitched two hitless innings out of the bullpen in a 14-3 win against the Astros on May 16 while putting in some extra work on the side.
Cain then responded with a complete-game one-hit gem in his next outing against the Athletics.
Lincecum said after Tuesday's loss he wouldn't mind trying that strategy, but Bochy made it a moot point with his decision. Instead, Bochy will try to pair catcher Bengie Molina with the young right-hander his next time out, just to shake things up.
Backup Guillermo Rodriguez has caught Lincecum's last two starts, neither of them very good ones. But Bochy quickly defended Rodriguez from any blame.
"I don't want that to be interpreted as Rodriguez didn't call a good game for [Lincecum]," Bochy said of Lincecum's shaky start Tuesday. "If you look at the tapes, he had trouble getting the ball to the glove.
"Timmy will tell you he couldn't get the ball where he wanted. He's very comfortable throwing to Guillermo. He had a lot of success down in [Triple-A] Fresno with him."
Kind words for Cain: Bochy paid Cain the ultimate compliment during Wednesday's pregame media session when he said the young hurler reminds him of Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, whom Bochy managed during his time as San Diego's skipper.
Cain has pitched his way to a 3.15 ERA this year but sports a 2-7 record, because the Giants really haven't given him much run support.
San Francisco has scored zero runs in each of Cain's last two starts and two runs or fewer in nine of his 14 outings. Bochy has been impressed with how Cain has battled through the rough stretch.
"He's unflappable," Bochy said. "He's not one to show a lot of emotion out there. You can't tell if he's having any difficulty making his pitches or handling tough times. He's like a machine. He just keeps going, and Trevor's the same thing."
Cain's maturity has been all the more remarkable considering he's only 22 years old.
"For someone to handle things the way he has at his age, it does say a lot about his makeup," Bochy said. "He's a warrior, he doesn't back down. Even though I'm sure he's been discouraged, he doesn't show it. He just goes about his business as usual."
On his way back? Reliever Russ Ortiz finally will get a chance to loosen up his arm on Friday, when he's scheduled to play catch at a distance of about 45 feet.
Ortiz landed on the 15-day disabled list on June 7 with a right forearm strain, three days after he injured his arm throwing a slider in a win against the Phillies. The veteran right-hander underwent an MRI scan that showed a strain in the flexor mass area of his forearm, and the Giants decided to shut him down for two weeks to let it recover.
"It's a lot of waiting around and trying to be patient with everything," Ortiz said. "The whole process right now is just try to let the muscle heal."
Ortiz said his forearm has been feeling fine, but he doesn't know how it will react to Friday's session. The Giants haven't decided on any sort of timetable for his return and will simply evaluate Ortiz after watching him throw Friday.
Ortiz has now spent time on the DL for two separate arm injuries this season, having also missed three weeks in May for an elbow injury. The 33-year-old then lost his spot in the starting rotation to Lincecum, but he said switching to a reliever's routine didn't cause his latest injury.
"It's just one of those things that just happened," Ortiz said. "You go around the room with every pitcher in here, and I'm sure they've had something that's happened -- some issue with their arm. Maybe it was just bound to happen at some point in time, who knows?"
Last call: Bochy was asked about the Giants' series against the Padres next week, but he said he hasn't even given any thought to their upcoming Yankees series, let alone the next one against the Padres. "You know, I'm real superstitious about that," Bochy said. "I won't even look at Yankees stuff until after the game today. I used to get on my staff sometimes. They'd break it out early. I'd be like, 'Put that away.'"
On deck: The Giants have Thursday off, but play host to the Yankees for a three-game Interleague series beginning Friday night. The Giants will face the Yankees for just the second time in Interleague history, the first time coming in 2002, when New York took two of three at Yankee Stadium. The Giants will send Cain (2-7, 3.15) to the mound against left-hander Kei Igawa (2-1, 7.63) in a 7:15 p.m. PT start.
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less