Lincecum helps Giants open spring slate

Lincecum helps Giants open spring slate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum, fittingly enough, will help the Giants open their 31-game Cactus League schedule Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners in Peoria.

The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner will face his hometown team -- which he has done on several previous occasions in exhibition play -- as he intensifies preparations for his Opening Day assignment April 5 at Houston.

Just a few weeks ago, Lincecum was embroiled in a possible salary arbitration showdown against the Giants that ended with a two-year, $23 million compromise deal. That might as well be ancient history now.

"I don't know if Timmy knows how much he got, to be honest," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's so loose. He just wants to pitch and play ball."

Though nurturing pitchers is always a priority during exhibition season, Bochy indicated that he has the luxury of worrying just a little less about his top starters -- Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.

"They look like they've put in a lot of work this offseason," Bochy said. "When they come into camp in the kind of shape they are, it certainly makes it a lot easier to prepare for Opening Day. You look at Timmy, Matt, 'Z,' Sanchez -- physically, they're all doing great. I'm comfortable with where they are right now and that they'll throw the way they did last year."

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Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' top pitching prospect who's competing for the No. 5 starting spot against Todd Wellemeyer, Joe Martinez and Kevin Pucetas, is expected to be among the pitchers following Lincecum to the mound.

Not everybody's healthy. First base will pose a daily challenge for the Giants until Travis Ishikawa returns from his left foot injury. Aubrey Huff, the projected starter, can't be expected to play nine innings every day. With Ishikawa sidelined, the Giants will use a combination of players to fill the position when Huff doesn't play. Bochy cited Mark DeRosa, Matt Downs, Brett Pill and even third baseman Pablo Sandoval as those who will fill in at first.

The Giants will be curious to see how shortstop Edgar Renteria, coming off the worst offensive season of his career, responds after undergoing offseason surgery on his right elbow. DeRosa, the projected left fielder who endured left wrist surgery in the offseason, hasn't taken "live" batting practice against pitchers and might not play immediately. DeRosa has swung against coaches, so he's believed to be ready to perform full-speed extremely soon.

"I'll speak for all the guys. ... It's great to get here, [but] after a couple of days, you can't wait for the games to start," Bochy said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.