LOS ANGELES — The marketing folks in Fresno shouldn't plan any campaigns around Tim Lincecum. The heralded right-hander won't be in the Central Valley very long.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean acknowledged that Lincecum is knocking on the big league door, even though the club has no place for him in the rotation.

"If he continues on this path, he's certainly not a minor league pitcher," Sabean said. "At some point, you've got to admit that and make room. He's on his way to forcing the issue."

Sabean spoke prior to Lincecum's start Monday. The 22-year-old entered that outing having thrown 18 scoreless innings with 28 strikeouts over his first three outings.

Sabean is in the final year of his contract and under a mandate to win, which can shift priorities. But Sabean said that if he brings up Lincecum to bolster a sagging late-inning relief crew, it's because the kid belongs in the big leagues.

"He's very, very unique," Sabean said. "And this day in age, when the kid forces the issue, it becomes incumbent on the organization to (promote him). We've seen more pitchers coming out of college with seemingly instant success. If he can help the big league club, and it's good for him, you have to look at it."

The Giants took Lincecum with the 10th overall pick last June out of Washington. He won the Golden Spikes award as the nation's top amateur player.

FIRST THINGS: The Giants have avoided making a decision on their swollen first base situation, but it figures to become an issue beginning today at Dodger Stadium when the team plays on the first of 20 consecutive days.


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It's hard to survive such a stretch without a dedicated backup infielder, and Sabean said it's only a matter of time before the club recalls Kevin Frandsen from Triple-A Fresno.

"We've got a lot of night games, which makes it a little easier to juggle it," Sabean said. "If we have one or two guys day-to-day on the infield, that's going to press the issue."

That includes second baseman Ray Durham, who has defied his recent history of day-to-day injuries and has started every game this season.

Lance Niekro, one of four first basemen on the roster, hasn't started a game and has just six at-bats. But the Giants don't want to risk losing him on a waiver claim if they try to send him down.

Barring an injury, it's difficult to envision the Giants being able to keep both Niekro and pinch hitter Mark Sweeney on the roster for an extended period.

ONE-HOPPERS: The division-leading Dodgers swept the Giants at AT&T Park on April 6-8, and they will throw the same three starting pitchers in this series. ... The Dodgers have a 2.98 ERA, second to only the New York Mets in the NL. (The Giants are third with a 3.18 ERA.). ... Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and closer Takashi Saito have been as impenetrable as any late-game trio this season. The three relievers have combined for a 0.62 ERA, and Saito has converted 16 consecutive save opportunities dating back to 2006. It's the third longest streak among all major league relievers, behind Mike Gonzalez (24) and Billy Wagner (21). ... Former Giant Jason Schmidt, who is on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his right shoulder, took leave because his wife gave birth to a baby boy Sunday.

MATCHUPS: Starting pitchers for the Dodgers series; Today, RH Matt Morris (2-0, 2.00) vs. RH Derek Lowe (2-2, 4.56), 7:10 p.m.; Wednesday, LH Noah Lowry (1-2, 2.70) vs. LH Randy Wolf (3-1, 3.37), 7:10 p.m.; Thursday, RH Russ Ortiz (2-1, 4.35) vs. RH Brad Penny (3-0, 1.37), 7:10 p.m.