SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The "Timulated" game lasted two innings and 32 pitches -- and it was everything Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted to see.
Tim Lincecum threw a simulated game while facing hitters on a back field Saturday morning and wasn’t bothered by the blister on the middle finger of his right hand. He was cleared to pitch Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres.
“Good day for Timmy,” said Bochy, after his two-time Cy Young Award winner unofficially struck out four of the seven batters he faced.
Lincecum threw 14 pitches in the first “inning,” as he struck out Nick Noonan and Gary Brown before giving up a 3-2 single up the middle to Brock Bond. In the second inning, Lincecum threw 18 pitches. He struck out Noonan and Bond on offspeed pitches that had good, downward action. Gary Brown hit an apparent double to the warning track in right field and Noonan whistled a single to left field.
Several of Lincecum’s fastballs rode up in the zone, but his breaking pitches –- the ones that tend to exacerbate the blister the most -– were well located.
“It’s nice to get back out there and pick up the pace a little bit,” said Lincecum, who had faced hitters only one other time this spring. I didn’t really feel (the blister) at all. It didn’t affect any pitches. It’s back to normal.”
For Lincecum, back to normal means recapturing his Cy Young form –- something he wasn’t able to do all through the regular season last year, when his 5.18 ERA was the highest among qualified NL starting pitchers.
Lincecum said he’s confident he won’t spend another year searching. He said his timing “was definitely good and I felt I was throwing on line. I had a good transfer of energy and I stayed on my back foot.”
Lincecum threw from the stretch while facing his final batter. There have been times Lincecum pitched exclusively from the stretch, in an effort to simplify all the moving parts in his delivery. I asked him if he’d go back and forth again this season.
He said no, he plans to use the traditional lineup “when I’m supposed to.”
This blister setback has one positive outcome: It means folks back home will be able to watch Lincecum’s next outing. Tuesday night’s game will be on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
“It’s definitely been frustrating, but to get back out there and realize it won’t be an issue, hopefully, is a good feeling,” Lincecum said.
Giants fans here for spring training can take in some bonus baseball Sunday morning. The Giants will play a B game against the Diamondbacks at 10:30 at their minor league complex at Camelback and Hayden. Mike Kickham and Chris Heston will get stretched out. They might play as many as seven innings.
Former top prospect Josh Booty, who is in the Diamondbacks’ minor league camp after winning a knuckleball throwing contest, might pitch the last inning, Bochy said.