Liotta: Giants kick training into high gear 

Tomorrow things get serious in Scottsdale. Officially.

Two weeks until Opening Day, the final chance for managers and general managers across baseball to figure out what they’ve got. The Giants have to get a read on what they can expect because they don’t have a margin for error.

No more excusing poor performances.

Tim Lincecum? Time to sharpen up and hone that Cy Young stuff into Opening Day lightning. Matt Cain? Start missing more bats and become the game’s most dominant second starter.

Time for Pablo Sandoval to begin to terrorize opposing pitchers, because he’s going to have to do that for the next six months if the Giants are going to have a chance at a postseason appearance.

Time for Aaron Rowand to prove his hot spring has not been at the expense of batting practice fastballs served up by starters just trying to find the first signs of their rhythm. He’s got to begin to make a difference, in terms of wins and losses, or he reaches the official starting line for being labelled a huge, free-agent bust.

Time for Edgar Renteria to rekindle a little bit more of the Edgar Renteria pre-2008. He has to, because Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy have to face the cold, hard facts about this roster.

This season, there’s not an extra inning to wait for things to materialize.

Random thoughts

-- If Todd Wellemeyer wins the job as the Giants’ fifth starter and Madison Bumgarner starts the season at Triple-A, the Giants might be better off, but they’ll be a lot less interesting. There’s nothing like the curiosity that comes with a 20-year-old phenom. 

-- Shaun Hill deserved better. He was the Niners starting quarterback at the moment the franchise became relevant again. He was under center when the Niners finally stopped owning the label “laughing stock.”

But that’s all he could ever be in the eyes of Niners fans. If Alex Smith fails, there was no going back to Hill.

The Niners can turn the job over to David Carr and claim a new chapter. They couldn’t turn back to Hill. And that’s why Hill is in Detroit with the Lions.

-- Tiger Woods returning to golf at the Masters in a couple of weeks says it’s all about the clout of the Augusta National Golf Club. There won’t be a peep about Tiger’s last four months, and I’m not crediting Southern hospitality.

Reporters will be respectful, or they won’t be allowed to cover future Masters.

Fans will be respectful because Augusta National numbers each one of the tickets to the event. Somebody misbehaves, and Masters officials can trace the ticket back to its original owner. And revoke that person’s
rights to future tickets.

Not one peep.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at

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