Wilson: I'll be ready to rock and roll on opening day

February 27, 2012, 8:55 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Brian Wilson hasnt blown one cutfastball past a major league hitter. So its too early to say hes back to hisold self on the mound.But after another promising bullpen session Monday morning,Wilson sure sounded like his old, confident and quirky self while meeting withreporters.And he left no doubt: Hell be ready to burst through thatbullpen gate on April 6.I know theres speculation, but if theres a saveopportunity on opening day, Ill be saving the game, he said. Im ready.This was not the evasive, gloomy Wilson who didnt giveinterviews in August and September when he couldnt pitch because of a soreright elbow. It wasnt even the clipped, somewhat standoffish Wilson whoreported to camp a week ago.He was back to his glib self, smirking as he offeredone-liners. And he made it clear his spirits match the way he feels on themound.I started the season on the DL and I ended the season(injured). I know theres much concern, Wilson said. Im just letting you knowthere wont be any concern once the season starts. Everybodys excited because Im pitching pain-free, but to me it was another bullpen. Thats how I pitch. Im not going to be surprised when I do well. Im going to take the mound and dominate. Any pitcher should feel like that. I know Ill pitchpain-free and Ill get the same three outs Ive always gotten.He paused as he stared me down, stifling a smile.And it will be exciting, Baggs.Wilson plans to throw another bullpen session in two days,then throw live batting practice. Hes on schedule to make his Cactus Leagueappearance March 11 or 12, and said he should be able to get in 10 to 11innings before the Giants open the season at Arizonas Chase Field.Thats good enough, Wilson said.Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Wilsons timetable, andcalled Mondays session his best of the spring for the All-Star closer.Hes got his velocity back and his cutter, said Bochy, whoreceived reports from pitching coach Dave Righetti and trainer Dave Groeschner.Theres doubts that will creep into every pitcher or hitters mind after beingoff for several months. But hes got to feel good with where hes at rightnow.Wilson said he's able to stride a half-step further than the previous year, when his hip and back forced him to stiffen up his delivery. The elbow soreness probably came from compensating for the back. Wilson said he's learning to pitch with the longer stride length, but he didn't believe it would be a major adjustment.He worked with bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu to simulate pitches to right-handed and left-handed batters, taking extra time between pitches as he tried to lock in his location. The session was more than just a pitcher gripping and ripping.Tim Lincecum watched Wilson throw and also came awayencouraged. As Lincecum spoke to reporters, Wilson came over and offered him achocolate chip cookie.Its delicious, Wilson said.Lincecum laughed.Thats the way everybody wants Willie light and full ofenergy, he said. Its tough to see him when hes not like that. To see himhealthy and worry free is good for us and good for the team.Lincecum understood why Wilson went into a shell. Thetwo-time Cy Young Award winner felt the same way when he went 0-5 in August,2010.It changes a player to the point where hes not himself,Lincecum said. When I was going through that August, it was probably awkwardfor people to be around me. It was similar with Wilson. I feel hes back tobeing himself this year. Hes like, I feel good. My pens are going good. Youget excited about that on a day-to-day basis. I saw his bullpen. I saw him lift. Hes back to beingWilson.The Giants dont just feed off Wilsons ability to savegames. They also feed off his special brand of confidence and mirth. Thosequalities are beginning to reemerge along with his stuff.Weve got some fast baseball players, some veteranhitters, Wilson said. Thats all we need. Weve got cats who keep it loosehere. Weve got (Aubrey) Huff. I dont know about the Rally Thong. He mightbring it back.If we play the way we did in 2010, not talent-wise but as ateam, well do fine.One more important question: Wheres the Machine?I dont know, Wilson said. Thats a good question. Canthe Machine retire? I dont think thats possible.Wilson wouldnt confirm the secret identity of thatmysteriously masked mascot from 2010, largely believed to be Pat Burrell.Instead, Wilson deadpanned that there was a Machine bobblehead giveaway day inthe works.Guaranteed sellout, he said.Wilson looks ready for that sellout-crowd stage again.There were times he was miserable, when he didnt feel heshould be shut down, Bochy said. Now that hes back, its got to be better.Hes right on schedule and hell get enough innings, go back-to-back days, allthe boxes we need to check off with him.Wilson said he didnt think of himself as a rehabbing playerany longer.Its a different type of confidence, he said. I know whoI am and what Im capable of doing. My mechanics are right. I dont have thefeeling in my arm or my hip that I did last year. I know there are checklists,Is Brian progressing? But Im not looking at it that way. I plan on going outthere every day and being ready.This is an awesome team and were looking forward toanother journey. Weve got this pitching staff back together and were ready torock.Another long pause.And thats going to be fun to write about, Baggs.

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