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Lincecum struggles as rotation changes loom

Giants will need to alter starting mix when Peavy, Cain return

LOS ANGELES -- The primary topic of conversation in Giants manager Bruce Bochy's office Sunday night was the state of his ballclub's starting rotation, not the 10-2 pounding San Francisco absorbed from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Bochy did nothing to change the subject, reflecting its importance to the ballclub. The team's braintrust must determine what roster moves to make and who to remove from the starting rotation as Jake Peavy rejoins the rotation this week, followed soon by Matt Cain. Discussion and debate surely will continue through Monday's scheduled off-day and into Tuesday, when the Giants are expected to announce their decisions.

"Sabes and I were talking about it, [exchanging] texts today," Bochy said, referring to baseball-operations czar Brian Sabean. Bochy added that pitching coach Dave Righetti, bullpen coach Mark Gardner and general manager Bobby Evans will join the consultations.

Tim Lincecum (7-4) may have simplified the hierarchy's thought process Sunday by allowing five runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings. The runs were a season high; the outing was the shortest start of his career. It was an poorly timed combination for Lincecum, with Peavy and Cain apparently recovered from their respective injuries. The Giants moved Lincecum to the bullpen in 2012 and 2014; they'd have no qualms about doing so again for the third time in four years.

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Lincecum responded to his previous reassignments with calm and class. Predictably, however, he'd prefer to maintain his present role, the one that made him a two-time Cy Young Award winner and a four-time All-Star.

"Definitely, I want to earn my right as a starter," Lincecum said.

Lincecum didn't strengthen his bid as the Dodgers avoided a three-game series sweep. By his own admission, he struggled mechanically, robbing precision from his fastball and movement from his other pitches.

"I had a lot of time during the game to go look at things," he said, referring to his brief outing as well as the benefits of video.

As has been the case with every Giants starter not named Madison Bumgarner, Lincecum insisted he hasn't been distracted by the specter of being replaced by Peavy or Cain.

"I think you go about your business. It's up to them," Lincecum said. "You can't control that. You just have to worry about what you can control, and that's what days you go out there and and what you do when you go out there."

Bochy refused to drop the slightest hint regarding who will remain in the rotation.

"I don't want to get into who will come out," he said. "I don't think that's fair."

Through Lincecum's first eight starts, removing him from the rotation would have been unthinkable. He went 4-2 with a 2.08 ERA in that span. In six starts since, he's 3-2 with a 7.00 ERA while averaging barely more than four innings per appearance.

"My arm hasn't been in the right spot for the pitches to have any effect," Lincecum said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum