MIAMI Tim Lincecum didnt receive a tongue lashing fromGiants management after another start went off the rails Friday night. He got apep talk.
More than anything, you let him know, hey, were all-inwith him, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who took Lincecum aside for ameeting with GM Brian Sabean after a 7-6 loss the clubs eighth defeat in theright-handers 10 starts.
I had my own lengthy, informal and candid conversation withLincecum today. I didnt take notes, but Ill paraphrase his sentiments:
--He said he feels fine physically, aside from the blister issuethat crops up on the middle finger on his right hand. It happens because of theway the side of his nail rubs against his finger when he throws his slider. Heconfirmed to me that the blister issue, not elbow or arm fears, is the reasonhe planned to stay away from throwing the slider this spring a plan that hescrapped after one start. He said hes got to get tougher and pitch through anydiscomfort that the blister causes. Simple as that.
--He said he's as surprised as anyone to have a 6.41 ERA after 10starts. Even when he struggled in the spring, he expected the light to go onwhen the season began, just like it would every year after he had a rough timein Scottsdale.
--He said theres been no talk whatsoever of skipping a turn in therotation, nor would he encourage that.
--He said he's trying to take a lesson from Ryan Vogelsong, who hasfound a way to gut through innings even though he, like Lincecum, has pitchedwith 2 mph off his fastball from last season.
--He said he was happy that he controlled his body language better.He knows that when his shoulders slump, his opponents feed off that likesharks that smell blood. He thinks hitters are too comfortable in the boxagainst him, and maybe the fact hes not carrying himself with thatindestructible demeanor is part of that. (As an aside, I remember there weretimes in the past when Lincecum wasnt throwing well but winning, and catcherBengie Molina remarked to me that he was getting people out with his name.Thats not a luxury he has now.)
--He said he's really trying to purge negative thoughts, which iswhat he keeps saying in his postgame interviews. That isnt just pablum for themasses. He said he knows hes close and there are as many good signs as badones. He has to focus on the good ones.
--He said he honestly cares about what the fans think and he doesntwant to let them down. He doesnt want them to reach the point where they expecthim to fail or to boo him off the mound. Even after all hes accomplished inhis career, he isnt taking any fan support for granted. I dont want them tostart to hate me, he said.
With all those things going through Lincecums mind, it wasprobably a good thing that Sabean and Bochy interceded after Friday nightsloss.
You tell him, Hey, youre throwing the ball well, Bochysaid. Sure, you had a hiccup in the sixth inning. Thats gonna happen. Theonly thing youve got to do is keep working hard, which is what hes doing.
More than anything, you let him know, hey, were all inwith him.
All we ask is for our guys to give it all they have, andTimmys done that. Hes doing it every start. Hes taking it hard, believe me.We wanted to send a message that we know hes doing all we can."