SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he'd be happy if Tim Lincecum got his pitch count up to 45 on Tuesday night, and that's right about where the right-hander left his start against the San Diego Padres.
Lincecum threw 43 pitches, including 26 strikes, and faced 12 hitters in his second appearance of spring. Lincecum hadn't pitched in a game since Feb. 26 due to a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
"Right now we're trying to build arm strength and still work on things out there," Lincecum said. "So, accomplished both those today."
Lincecum reported "no issues" with his finger. Now the task is ramping up his pitch count after the layoff. The Giants have about three weeks and probably four more turns through their rotation in spring before Opening Day. Will that be enough time for Lincecum to build up stamina?
"No doubt in my mind that's plenty of time," Bochy said.
"I mean, I have to make it work," Lincecum said.
Lincecum said he'd like to increase his workload by 10-15 pitches in his next start and work from there. He didn't rule out going to minor-league camp if he needs extra work, but Bochy said the plan for now is to keep Lincecum in his normal rotation spot.
Lincecum was mostly sharp through the first two innings Tuesday, nullifying a Kensuke Tanaka error by inducing a double play in the first inning and pitching out of a two-on, one-out situation in the second by striking out Cody Ransom and Rene Rivera.
He got the first out in the third before allowing three consecutive hits, including a triple to Mark Kotsay as his final batter. Lincecum had struck Kotsay out swinging in the first inning on a changeup. He said rhythm, not fatigue, was the issue in the third.
Bochy said results at this point are irrelevant for Lincecum and that he "thought (Lincecum) threw the ball well." In terms of arm strength, Bochy said Lincecum is "ahead of where he was at this point last year."
Sandoval returns – Pablo Sandoval rejoined the team Tuesday with Venezuela eliminated from the World Baseball Classic and started at third base against the Padres. Bochy was going to give Sandoval a day to settle in but said Sandoval was eager to play.
Sandoval said his WBC experience had some "great moments," including following a home run by Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera with one of his own in Venezuela's win over Spain. Sandoval said the two didn't talk at all about the 2012 World Series.
"That's past," he said.
Asked if he was disappointed Venezuela didn't go further in the tournament, Sandoval shrugged and said, "It's part of the game." He said he would play in the WBC again if the opportunity arises.
Bochy said he would need a day to determine how Sandoval did with the conditioning program the Giants gave him to follow.
Second baseman Marco Scutaro, another member of the Venezuelan team, is scheduled to rejoin the Giants today.