San Francisco Giants

Giants’ Tim Lincecum (neck) will miss a start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Halfway through March, two members of the Giants’ projected starting rotation still have significant ground to cover to be ready for opening day.

Tim Lincecum will not make his scheduled start Monday, manager Bruce Bochy said, as he continues to experience neck soreness that cropped up the night before his last outing last Wednesday.

Lincecum did play catch Sunday and said his neck felt "better." Bochy said the Giants are confident Lincecum will be able to make his next scheduled start March 21 -- and that the new timeline will still give Lincecum enough time to build up the necessary stamina for a start in the first week of the regular season.

"Yeah, we think so," Bochy said. "We’ll see where he’s at on that day, though … This’ll give him time, we can get him somewhat stretched out hopefully on the 21st."

Lincecum said before the Giants’ 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday that he felt improvement in his neck -- which wasn’t allowing him to turn his head in his last outing, throwing off his delivery -- but that he wasn’t trying to rush a return.

"I can’t force the issue," he said. "Right now isn’t the time to be a hero."

Tim Hudson, meanwhile, started Sunday against Arizona and threw about 35 pitches in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. But he allowed three hits and two walks and acknowledged after his outing that his command needs work -- something he believes will come with more throws off a mound.

Hudson has pitched in two games and thrown in live batting practice, but said he hasn’t had many bullpen sessions where he’s just working on pitches without worrying about getting hitters out. He plans to throw a bullpen Tuesday and said he hopes that with more mound work, "things will start sharpening up a little bit."

"I’m just trying to work on some release point and mechanical stuff and fine-tune some stuff out there," Hudson said. "Physically, I feel really good. I’m just not making really good pitches consistently."

Hudson said that in his next game outing he’ll aim for 45 to 50 pitches and about three innings. Ideally, he said, he would reach 100 pitches in his second-to-last spring outing and then scale back in his last one to be fresh for his regular-season debut. Hudson did come in a little behind the other pitchers due to ankle surgery in January, but he said he feels physically ahead of where he thought he would be March 15.

"Obviously you’d like to get out there and be spot-on and sharp as you would be at mid-season, but I’m really not right now as far as how my stuff is out there," Hudson said. "But I can’t really complain about it. I didn’t really know if I would be out there this early in camp, but I’m out there, I’m getting some good work in.

"Right now the plate’s moving around a little bit on me out there. But that’ll definitely get better with more mound work."

Hudson added that he wasn’t sweating his messy line Sunday -- or any spring training numbers for that matter -- pointing out that even Madison Bumgarner gave up a few in his first Cactus League start.

"World Series MVP, I think he gave up a run this spring," Hudson said, grinning. "The guy sucks."

* When Hunter Pence first went down with a fractured forearm earlier this spring, Bochy said Nori Aoki would get the first long look at replacing Pence in right field to start the season. Sunday, Bochy said the Giants are considering moving Aoki back to left field and figuring out a different plan in right.

Bochy said the talks have "nothing to do" with how Aoki has looked in right field and was quick to stress the decision has not been made. "He’s been fine out there," Bochy said of Aoki. "It’s just a quirky outfield (at AT&T Park)."

But Bochy said the Giants have "some pretty good options" if they do decide to switch Aoki back to left. Gregor Blanco has acquitted himself well in right field at AT&T in the past and could platoon with a right-handed hitter such as Juan Perez or Justin Maxwell.

As for Pence, Bochy said the right fielder got the cast on his left arm changed Sunday and was in good spirits hanging around Scottsdale Stadium.

"They have a way of seeing how the healing process is going and they can see it healing," Bochy said. "Hunter has such a positive outlook on everything, he really feels that he’ll be ahead of schedule. But we’ve got to be careful we don’t rush it."

* Bochy noted a few Giants players who threw out good at-bats Sunday. Ehire Adrianza went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI while Matt Duffy, competition for Adrianza for the backup infield job, tripled in his lone at-bat to raise his spring average to .375. Prospect Mac Williamson legged out a triple with impressive speed. Casey McGehee had an RBI single and is batting .500 in Cactus League play.

The Giants won at home for the first time since March 5 against the Cubs and, noting the fact they haven’t looked all that good the past week, Bochy said: "It’s good to play well."

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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