SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -The San Francisco Giants brought in some help for their taxed bullpen Friday, recalling right-hander Scott Munter from Triple-A Fresno and designating first baseman Lance Niekro for assignment.
``If you looked how the last couple of games have gone, we needed some help in the bullpen,'' manager Bruce Bochy said before the Giants played the second game of a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies. ``With (Munter) being the freshest, it made the most sense. It had to be a roster guy at this point.''
On Sunday, San Francisco plans to make another move to bring up hard-throwing righty Tim Lincecum from Fresno to start in his major league debut. The Giants selected the 22-year-old Lincecum with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft out of Washington and went into spring training saying he was a possibility to make the opening-day roster.
But Lincecum is being groomed as a starter, so he began in the minors - and he is 4-0 with an 0.29 ERA in five starts for the Grizzlies, allowing one run and 12 hits in 31 innings. His debut will be a night game on national TV.
``I know he's caught word of what's going on,'' Bochy said. ``I think he can handle everything that's thrown at him. He knows the guys here and has that sense of belonging. Being a No. 1 pick, you're used to getting some attention. He'll be fine.''
Munter went 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Fresno, holding opponents to a .217 batting average. He pitched two perfect innings Tuesday at Tucson in his last outing.
Munter has been working on rediscovering his sinker and slider and has no idea how long he'll be in the big leagues this time.
``You never know. I see it as an opportunity - throw my pitches, get the guys out, help the team win,'' he said.
The Giants have 10 days to either trade Niekro or place him on waivers or he would be sent outright to Fresno.
He made the club out of spring training after knowing he was on the bubble because of the team's plethora of players at his spot. The move Friday didn't come as a shock.
He started at first base Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies and went 0-for-3. Niekro, whose father Joe Niekro died during the offseason, batted .176 (3-for-17) with no RBIs in 11 games, three starts, this season for San Francisco.
``I had a gut feeling these last few days,'' he said before leaving the ballpark. ``I knew the bullpen has been pitching a lot of innings lately. I know that earlier in the season, they expressed feelings about wanting another infielder to help get some guys some days off. I wasn't totally surprised. It's still something you never want to hear.''
His best year was 2005, when he batted .252 in 113 games for the Giants in his only year close to a full big league season.
Niekro planned to head home to Florida for a couple of days.
``I'll just keep my fingers crossed,'' he said. ``I would love to be in this organization, but it's hard to say I'd rather be in Triple-A than in the big leagues with someone else. Hopefully, that chance will happen. But if it doesn't, I'm definitely not going to sit in Fresno and pout, say, 'I hate the Giants, I can't believe they did this to me.' I'm just going to go play.''

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