Leading Off: Plenty of questions, talent for Giants, A's

03/27/2013 12:00 AM

03/27/2013 7:11 AM

Today is the final day in Arizona for the Giants and A's before returning to the Bay Area for the three-game Bay Bridge series beginning Thursday, a day off Sunday, then their season openers Monday.

Question marks? For the Giants, start with Tim Lincecum. The beloved two-time Cy Young Award winner has fared poorly (10 2/3 innings, 17 hits, 13 earned runs, 10.97 ERA) this spring. With the rest of the rotation looking solid (though Matt Cain's WHIP of 1.45 is vexing), Lincecum is a puzzle. He could be out of the rotation before midseason – or earlier – if he doesn't come around.

The other is Pablo Sandoval. Sure, he's hitting over .400, but in how many at-bats? He is battling an elbow problem, the latest physical ailment on a growing list. And – news flash – he needs to lose weight. Here's a guy who has magic in his bat, but way too many carbs on his plate. The nature of the Giants' batting order changes dramatically if he is: a) out hurt, or b) playing poorly because he's out of shape.

And this: Can Sergio Romo go a full season effectively closing games with his slider and 88-mph fastball? Detroit may think so, but .

In Oakland, this could be a proving year for a pitching rotation that showed youthful (not you, Bartolo Colon) promise in 2012. Closer Grant Balfour was a sight to behold during the stretch run, and his fortunes this season will determine a lot.

The A's outfield of Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick could be among the league's most exciting; the infield could be a work in progress, though, especially if shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima doesn't pan out.

Prediction: The Bay Area will be home to contenders in both leagues, and one of the best places in the world to be a fan this season. Like last year.

Today's poll

Which team will have the best record in April?



To vote, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Tuesday's results

How far will FGCU advance in the NCAA Tournament?

Lose Sweet 16 game: 57%

Elite Eight: 26%

Final Four: 8%

Win championship: 9%

Total votes: 97

Call The Bee's Brian Blomster, (916) 326-5512. Follow him on Twitter @b_blomster.


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