Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

April 2, 2013
Giants: Belt down with sickness; Lincecum excited for start

LOS ANGELES -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is being held out of the lineup tonight with a virus. Belt, who has been battling a bug for the past few days, was told to take the later bus to Dodger Stadium and got treatment from the Giants' staff when he arrived at the stadium this afternoon.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Belt would likely be available to pinch-hit tonight if needed. That could change depending on how Belt, who arrived at the stadium looking pretty drained, feels at game time. Belt was under the weather Monday as well when he went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts in the Giants' opening day loss.

"It's a shame, really," Bochy said. "He's coming off a great spring and starts the season sick. He was really not feeling well yesterday. Looking back I probably should've given him the day yesterday. He's been washed out for a couple days now."

Bochy said his hope is that Belt will be recovered to play tomorrow. The Dodgers are scheduled to start right-hander Josh Beckett in the series finale.

First base will be manned tonight by Joaquin Arias. Bochy said Arias played some first during spring training and that it made more sense to put Arias there and leave Pablo Sandoval at third.

* Tim Lincecum spoke to reporters ahead of his first start of the season tomorrow and said he's going into the start with a lot of optimism and confidence despite a fairly tumultuous spring training. Lincecum, of course, battled a blister on his throwing hand that pushed back his schedule and then finished the spring with a 10.57 ERA.

The right-hander said he's "itching at the bit" -- so much so that he's inventing new sayings -- to pitch in a meaningful game tomorrow and that his final tuneup bullpen session was encouraging. Above all, he reiterated that he has "embraced" the struggles he went through last year and is in a more positive frame of mind going forward.

Bochy said he too is happy about where Lincecum is despite the limited spring in terms of arm strength and command, and feels Lincecum is stretched out enough having thrown 81 pitches in his last exhibition start against the A's.

Lincecum will oppose Beckett tomorrow before the Giants are off Thursday, heading home for the AT&T Park opener against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon. He acknowledged that getting the opportunity to start a game in the opening series -- against the Dodgers, no less -- was a meaningful decision on the part of Bochy and the Giants.

"Obviously they wanted me to be a starter this year, and whether that was in the three-spot or five-spot I kind of just wanted to be included in that," Lincecum said. "And I don't know necessarily if I've earned that with my spring training numbers, or (if it's) just my tenure here I guess you could say.

"But I think you've got to respect that and take it as a sign of respect for myself, to know that I can go out there and they have that trust in me -- they have that confidence in me -- to go out there and get the job done, especially coming off, like I said, any kind of bad starts that I had last year."

* George Kontos said he let himself be frustrated for a couple hours after allowing a tie-breaking home run to Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the opener Monday before putting the game behind him.

"I think a couple years ago an outing like that would have shaken me up a little," Kontos acknowledged. But though he's on his first opening day roster, Kontos said, he's more secure in the knowledge that one outing is "not going to make or break" his season and that he feels "the staff knows what I'm capable of doing."

Kontos reiterated that the fastball to Kershaw was a mistake. Otherwise, he didn't pitch poorly. He said the pitch that Carl Crawford doubled on was a sinker that was headed for the target of Buster Posey, and that Crawford managed to reach the bat head out and flick the ball down the left-field line. He then got Mark Ellis to pop up a bunt attempt with a slider, but the ball landed just out of the reach of a diving Posey.

Kontos said he didn't re-watch the outing -- sometimes he will to reinforce good habits -- and that he's looking forward to getting back on the mound before too long.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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