SAN FRANCISCO — As his career trended in the wrong direction, the curiosity was still always there when Tim Lincecum started a season. How crisp would his mechanics be? How hard would he be throwing? Would he finally find positive results? What would his hair look like?
Today, finally, the baseball world gets some answers. Lincecum, who for so long was one of the game’s biggest names, will hold a long-awaited showcase at Scottsdale Stadium at 2:30 p.m. About 20 teams are expected to be in attendance, including the Giants, who still consider themselves a potentially good home for No. 55.
The two have seemed slightly at odds throughout the process, with Lincecum saying he wants to start and the Giants maintaining that they view him as a reliever. But with a month of the season gone, those two roles are far closer than they appear.
Giants officials have publicly refused to connect Lincecum to the struggles at the back end of the rotation, but privately, they acknowledge that Lincecum might be the best fit and he will have a chance to start if he’s throwing well and wants to be here. Jake Peavy and Matt Cain have allowed 56 earned runs in 60 innings, and even if they do turn it around, the Giants know they need more depth.
Here’s the thing about that “long reliever” role they say is open: Yusmeiro Petit had it in 2014 and made a dozen starts; Ryan Vogelsong had it in 2015 and started 22 times.
Asked about Lincecum after the latest rough night for the back end of his rotation, Bruce Bochy was short on details.
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“He’s going to get looked at,” Bochy said. “We’ll have people looking at him there. That’s going to be between Timmy and his agent, with what he decides to do.”
The Giants aren’t going into this process blind. Lincecum has been throwing at their facility for weeks, and while the Giants mostly let him throw alone with his own catcher, team officials were present for at least one of the bullpen sessions. The Giants front office has an idea of where Lincecum is at, and there’s a belief that he will limit his market if all goes well today.
In addition to the Giants and crosstown A’s, the Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, White Sox, Rangers, Orioles, Nationals, Marlins and Pirates have been connected to Friday’s workout. Friends of Lincecum believe the famously private right-hander will ultimately want to stay on the West Coast, with the Padres identified by several as the most likely destination should Lincecum end up elsewhere in the big leagues this season. There remains a belief among those who have spoken to him recently that Lincecum wants to return to San Francisco.
Lincecum, speaking to Yahoo Sports on Wednesday, pointed out that the Giants already have six starters (which they no longer do) and said, “Where I end up is where I’ll end up.”
“I’ve got to just look out for me,” Lincecum told Yahoo, “And if (the Giants are) the No. 1 piece in the puzzle when it comes down to decision time, I’ll be excited to go back.”
While Lincecum spoke to two national reporters on Wednesday, he has not been seen publicly since an appearance at AT&T Park following September hip surgery. The showcase, which was repeatedly pushed back, will be streamed live by CSN Bay Area.