Spring Headlines: Tim Lincecum ‘better’ in spring debut; ‘Knuckler’ champ Josh Booty still Miami Marlins property

David Brown
Big League Stew

Short-haired Tim Lincecum's first outing of spring training was cut a little short itself, but he was was happy with it. Lincecum threw 22 of 38 pitches for strikes, reaching his limit before the second inning ended. Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reports that Timmy still liked how it all went down:

The two-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings. He struck out one and didn’t walk a batter, although he went to 3-2 counts on four hitters.

Discouraging? Not in the least.

“It’s a good sign,” said Lincecum, “when you feel the ball’s coming out of your hand better than the year before.”

Though he showed a spark during the playoffs, Lincecum finished the 2012 season with a 5.18 ERA, having led the NL in earned runs allowed and wild pitches. He has promised a new approach this season, and not just with his hair.

Someone else's Booty: The Miami Marlins, and not the Arizona Diamondbacks, will get the first crack at Josh Booty if he can take his game-show knuckleball to the next level.

Booty, a former NFL quarterback and infielder with the Marlins, won "The Next Knuckler," a TV show on MLB Network in which Tim Wakefield tried teaching a knuckleball to green contestants. But it turns out the Marlins never properly relinquished Booty's rights after he played with them a decade ago, writes Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. So the Marlins worked out a deal with Arizona in which, if they like Booty's progress as he works with the D-backs, they'll get a chance to place him in their organization first. Booty beat out his brother John David Booty, along with Doug Flutie and others for a chance to get coached up by the D-backs, appear in a Cactus League game and, maybe, have a new knuckleball career.

* * *

Bryce Harper starts spring on a tear: He is 6 for 8 and stinging the ball so far, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. And he's nagging manager Davey Johnson to get in the lineup as much as possible.

Harper said two of the areas he hopes to work on this spring are making sure he squares up balls (read: hit them solidly) and progress with his defense (read: take the right routes to balls and hit the cutoff man on throws.) On one throw in the third inning of Tuesday’s game, he refrained from uncorking a strong throw home and hit his cutoff man instead, holding a runner at second base.

Yu looks marvelous in debut: Yu Darvish retired all six batters he faced, striking out two, in his first appearance of the spring for the Texas Rangers. He's not getting too excited, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:

"I think my fastball was really good today, but it's just the beginning of Spring Training," Darvish said. "I don't think the hitters are ready yet."

They were after Yu left the game. The White Sox scored 14 times against the Rangers bullpen.

No room in the Bronx for Johnny Damon: He offered, but the New York Yankees aren't going to take back Johnny Damon. With outfielder Curtis Granderson sidelined until May because of a broken arm, Damon thought his own free-agent status might be tempting for the Yankees, for whom he used to play. Apparently not, writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch:

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman received a text message from agent Scott Boras on Monday after Damon told ESPN Radio that he had "tons of interest" in coming to camp to fight for a roster spot this spring.

"We're going to evaluate what we have in camp," Cashman said. "I'm not looking outside at this stage. But my first response always to [an injured player] is to make sure we don't have what we need right here in front of us."

What a diplomat! Instead, the Yanks will get a closer look at the likes of Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera and Melky Mesa.

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