SAN FRANCISCO It wasnt easy for Giants manager BruceBochy to tell Tim Lincecum that he wouldnt be a part of the starting rotationfor the NL Division Series.
RELATED: Vogelsong, not Lincecum will start Game 3
It wasnt easy for Lincecum to hear it, either.
Then again, nothing has been easy this season for theGiants two-time Cy Young Award winner. He traveled a dark and dreary roadwhile going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA. He wasn't in command of his mechanics or his pitches.
Now, publicly, hes taking the high road. That much he can control.
Im not going to be the guy who throws a tantrum becauseIm not getting what I want or Im not getting what I think I deserve orwhatnot, said Lincecum, who stopped to talk to reporters prior to Game 2 onSunday. Its not about that. Right now its about the team and its aboutwinning. This is not about stats. Its not about individual rewards. Its aboutthe team.
Oh, but the decision was about stats. Remove the names andlook at just the pure numbers. Lincecum easily was the Giants fifth-beststarter this season. The club went 2-8 in his first 10 starts and he needed amuch-improved second half just to reach double-digit victories.
RATTO: All signs point to Lincecum not starting in NLDS
It wasnt enough of a second-half rebound for Bochy to letLincecums past trump Ryan Vogelsongs present-day stuff.
Earlier in the day, Bochy insisted Lincecum was on board with the decision tostart Vogelsong in Game 3. After batting practice, Lincecum didnt offer any spoken evidence to thecontrary.
I dont make up the lineup and yeah, as much as Id like tostart, I dont make that say, said Lincecum, stopped in a stairwell on his way back to the clubhouse. Hes the one making thedecisions and thats what hes there for and Im all for it. Any position I canbe in to help the team, whether thats coming out of the bullpen or making along relief appearance or anything, or starting on whichever day, it reallydoesnt matter to me. I just want to help my team.
"I kind of understood it a little more than you would expectjust because I understand the way Ive been going right now. My last twostarts werent that great and other guys had more success coming into thisseries than I have.
Its more of an open mindset. Its ,If Im starting Imstarting, and if Im in the bullpen, I know the reasons why. Its aboutearning it and its not about what youve done. Its about what youve donelately, and my last two starts werent very good.
Lincecum confirmed he hadnt been told to prepare for apotential Game 4 start; the Giants are expected to name Barry Zito, althoughMatt Cain will be an option on short rest.
Lincecum said he hadnt been told any plans beyond the NLDivision Series, either, should the Giants advance. But if the Giants other startersstruggle enough to open the door for Lincecum, that means the team probably wouldntget past the Cincinnati Reds, anyway.
Lincecum started and relieved at the University ofWashington and made one relief appearance in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS at Philadelphia, where hestruck out Jayson Werth in the eighth inning and gave up singles to Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez.Brian Wilson took over and got lucky when Carlos Ruiz lined into a double playas the Giants went on to clinch the NL pennant.
Lincecum has made one regular-season relief appearance, althoughthat came in a 2008 game at Dodger Stadium when there was the threat of rain;Bochy, anticipating a long delay in the middle of the game, decided to startreliever Guillermo Mota and brought in Lincecum to begin the third inning.
Lincecum said he hadnt forgotten his fireman days fromcollege.
Its easy to kind of ride on that adrenaline when you hearyour name, Lincecum said. It happened to me in the NLCS in 2010. That littlebit of experience should help me. I feel like I should be all right if I takemy time out there and approach it like its any other inning. College or not,Ive still done it.
Lincecum did not take any issue with the decision to startVogelsong in Game 3, even though the 35-year-old journeyman and 2011 All-Star had his own struggles in August andSeptember before rebounding with three solid outings to end the season.
Hes been through a grind his whole life so for him to comeout and throw two great seasons up like he has this year and last year spokevolumes to what hes about and what hes committed to, Lincecum said. You cansee the intensity in his face that this is what hes about.
I think hes just been waiting for this moment to get thechance to do that and I think hes going to step up.
Two years ago, it was Zito who got bypassed. The left-hander wasnt onany of the three postseason rosters, yet kept throwing to stay ready. Did Lincecum seek any counsel from Zito onhow to handle Bochys decision?
I wouldnt say its like, Hey Barry, can you help me outhere? Lincecum said. Things get brought up at times. Were human beings andwe have emotions and were going to help each other because were teammates andweve been through a lot together.
Whats next for Lincecum, who turned down overtures for along-term contract last winter to sign a two-year deal that takes him up tofree agency? How will a decision like this impact his preparation, hisreadinesshis future?
Thats going to be something Ill go over with myself and obviouslywith my father (Chris) and whoever I think is going to be there to help meimmediately in the offseason, Lincecum said. So right now Im just working onwhat I need to be out of the bullpen with what I have."