Lincecum a Giants reliever for now against Reds

Tim Lincecum is a reliever for the time being, two years after

he pitched the Giants’ Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas.

The struggling two-time NL Cy Young Award winner pitched two

innings out of the bullpen for San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL

division series against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night. His

team trailed 1-0 after losing Saturday’s opener 5-2.

Manager Bruce Bochy named right-hander Ryan Vogelsong his Game 3

starter for Tuesday in Cincinnati – and Bochy said he already

picked a pitcher for a potential Game 4. He wouldn’t say whether

the Giants would turn to Matt Cain on three days’ rest but said an

announcement on the tentative plan could come by late Sunday.

”My reaction is I know what to prepare for now,” said

Lincecum, who went through pregame work with the relievers. ”I’ll

go in with that mindset today and whatever they want me to do.

That’s really all I can do. I don’t make up the lineup. As much as

I’d like to start, I don’t have that say. He’s the one making the

decisions. That’s what he’s there for and I’m all for that.”

Lincecum is the franchise leader in wins for a single postseason

with four from 2010.

He went 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA and 190 strikeouts in his sixth

major league season. The losses were a career high.

Lincecum started Game 5 of the 2010 NL championship series then

pitched in relief in Game 6 following a day off. Otherwise, the

right-hander has rarely been a reliever – just once in April 2008.

Bochy planned to use him in long relief if the situation called for

him, preferably at the start of a fresh inning.

He pitched the sixth and seventh innings Sunday, allowing one

hit and striking out two. He pumped his fist after striking out

Ryan Hanigan to end the sixth.

”I’m just looking forward to whenever I get on the field,

whether that’s starting,” Lincecum said. ”Nothing’s saying I’m

going to come out of the bullpen today. Just waiting for that

chance. When it comes up I’ll do my best.”

Bochy called it a tough decision, comparing this situation to

leaving left-hander Barry Zito off the postseason roster for all

three rounds during the 2010 run to the franchise’s first

championship since 1954.

Zito, meanwhile, is another option out of the bullpen if needed.

San Francisco won Zito’s final 11 starts.

The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Oakland Athletics had

his best season since joining the Giants on a $126 million,

seven-year contract before the 2007 season. Zito won his last five

starts and seven decisions of the regular season since a loss Aug.

2 to the Mets.

”I wouldn’t rule out anything,” Bochy said of a Game 4 – if

the series gets that far.

Lincecum was the first Giants starter since Livan Hernandez in

2001 to make at least 30 starts and have an ERA as high as 5.18.

The 28-year-old pitcher also allowed a majors-high 28 runs in the

first inning after giving up only eight all of last year.

While he was 1-6 with a 9.00 ERA in his first nine road starts,

Lincecum was 5-0 with a 3.16 ERA over his final six away from

AT&T Park.

Ultimately, Bochy decided based on the consistency of playoff

first-timer Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37 ERA). He threw a bullpen session

Saturday after being told the plan a couple of days ago.

”I talked to Timmy, Timmy knows,” Bochy said. ”Timmy

understands. It’s fair to say it’s been an up-and-down year for

Timmy. It’s been a fight for him all year.”