Lincecum left to self-reflect in Seattle

Lincecum left to self-reflect in Seattle
July 9, 2012, 11:35 pm
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Its sunny in Seattle today, which doesnt fit either Tim Lincecums mood or desire. He was likely looking forward to wrapping himself in the grey and damp of his native land -- after two starts in sweltering, suffocating East Coast heat -- while he reflected on his very terrible first half of the 2012 season.Instead, hell look out the windows of his swanky sky rise apartment and see bright sun, glistening off the water, feel mild temperatures in the high-70s, and curse his luck.The weather. Just one more freakin thing he cant control. For the first time since his rookie season, Lincecum is spending the All-Star game apart from the midsummer classic festivities. Instead hes spending it as the worst starting pitcher in the majors, with a 6.42 earned-run-average.Its a crazy, unfathomable plummet -- one that no one can explain, including Lincecum. Though, God knows, he keeps trying. The kid opens a vein after every start, reaches down inside himself and pulls out first his heart and then his soul and, after some rummaging around, his ego for all of us to look at and examine and dissect.He did it again on Sunday, calling himself the weak link -- something you are unlikely to ever hear another professional athlete say about him or herself. He cant seem to help himself -- theres no tough front with Lincecum.Hes searching for answers. What he probably doesnt need to do is overanalyze everything with all his buddies or family members back in Seattle. What he probably doesnt need to do is try to escape his issues.He told reporters on Saturday that he wasnt looking to do that.No, Im going to pick up a ball and keep my mind surrounded with baseball, he said. I have to think about what Ive gone through in order to remedy this.The Giants are right not to try to skip his next start. Hes going to have a couple of days away from the game, a break in routine. And the next opponent is the Astros, the worst team in the major leagues. Last time they were in town, Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against them. And while theres no diminishing such a towering feat, history will still note that it came against the Houston Astros. The Giants may run out of patience soon with Lincecum, but not yet, not in this next scheduled start.The Astros might be a way for Lincecum to find what he needs the most -- his swagger. For all the talk about mechanics, its clear that his biggest issue is mental. You can visibly watch his bad body language take over on the mound. He seemed to get his mojo back momentarily in the last home stand after a long talk with Ryan Vogelsong between innings against the As. He came back to the mound more determined, then carried that look over into his next start against the Dodgers.
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But whatever gains he made melted away last week in the Eastern heat wave (and, yes, using the heat is making excuses, but the reality is Lincecum has never pitched well in high heat and humidity).Lincecum is looking for an explanation, which is why he keeps using his postgame sessions as therapy. Its been terrible, he said. Its a terrible feeling.Now, back in Seattle, he needs, take a deep breath, look around the nice apartment his baseball talent bought, and watch the sun glint off the water. Its not the gloomy clouds that match his mood, but maybe he can glimpse some reason for optimism on the horizon.And he needs to keep the ball in his hand and his mind, like he promised.

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