SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum, wearing baggy shorts and a Team USA soccer shirt, bent over and picked up an orange Nike shoe box after his 41st pitch of a showcase at Scottsdale Stadium. He smiled as he walked off the field.
“No hitters got any hits, so that’s always positive,” he joked in an interview with CSN Bay Area a few minutes later.
Lincecum is as free-spirited and relaxed as ever, and now teams will have to decide if he’s the same pitcher he used to be. The right-hander threw for more than 20 teams who came to see if the two-time Cy Young Award winner is back. The Giants were there, represented by assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley and others, but there was no need for the contingent to be bigger.
Dick Tidrow, the organization’s pitching guru, and general manager Bobby Evans watched Lincecum privately 10 days ago. They have a pretty good idea of where he’s at and what kind of fit there is. Lincecum told CSN Bay Area’s Shawn Estes that the next step is meeting with his agent, Rick Thurman of Beverly Hill Sports Council.
“I’ll kind of get an idea of what’s going on and what people are saying and what people are looking for and which teams are looking for a guy like myself,” Lincecum said. “I’ll hopefully make a decision in the near future. This isn’t familiar territory for me, so I’ll probably get a little bit of help from (my agent) with what he thinks I should do.”
Lincecum said he would entertain all options, including starting out as a long reliever, but he still has a clear preference on what he wants to do. He feels he could step into a Triple-A rotation right now and throw five or six innings on his way back to the big leagues.
“I think I know there are other teams (besides the Giants) out there that are looking for starters right now and I wouldn’t have to go to Triple-A and have to work my way behind somebody,” Lincecum said. “To be honest with you I’d rather start, but I know I need to get timing with others hitters in the box and work my way through it that way.
“We’ll come to a decision here in the near future but I haven’t decided what’s the most important (thing) to me right now.”
Lincecum’s fastball was 90 to 92 with good life during his two innings in front of scouts Friday. Last season he topped out at 90.4 with an average of 87.5, and any team that signs Lincecum would surely expect the velocity to tick up a tiny bit when the adrenaline of a big league game kicks in.
Lincecum threw all his pitches, and his curveball appeared especially sharp. It is a pitch that his father, Chris, says looks better than it has in years. Scouts in attendance said Lincecum also repeated his complicated delivery well.
“If anything I’ve simplified it a little bit with the new hip being able to stabilize my landing, which is a big part of what controls your hand and where the pitch is going to go,” Lincecum said. “It just feels more consistent … I’m not searching for that extra gear to try and throw harder anymore.”
Chris said he was “quite pleased, and so was everyone in the Lincecum camp.”
Lincecum has been working out in Arizona all winter in a bid to resume his career after September hip surgery. Friday’s showcase was originally supposed to take place in January or February, but it was repeatedly pushed back as Lincecum tried to get all the way back to 100 percent. The biggest takeaway for the Giants who watched the live stream Friday afternoon -- and there were many of them -- was that Lincecum looked healthy, something that thrilled the clubhouse.
“I watched Timmy throw — he looked healthy and athletic,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s hard to tell from our view and what we have, but he did look healthy.”
The Giants do currently have five healthy starters, although only three have been effective. While team officials said Friday that they continue to view Lincecum as a reliever, patience is wearing thin with Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, who have combined to give up 56 earned runs in 60 innings.
The Giants have not tipped their hand, and neither has Lincecum. But no matter where he ends up, the Giants will be watching closely.
“Regardless of what happens you’re going to root for Tim Lincecum,” Bochy said. “Nobody loves him more than I do.”