On Monday morning, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow made some cautiously optimistic remarks about Tim Lincecum.
"Well hey, we're all keeping our fingers crossed because he's a huge, huge, part of the Giants' hope this year. I want to stay optimistic...
"I'm gonna remain optimistic. I want to see it. Once he gets his hand up and he's in position to throw that fastball and he can control the knee-high location, then the other pitches follow. Those are his keys.
"I know he's done a lot of work. Look, this is his 'walk year.' If he wants to stay in baseball he's gonna have to put up some numbers. So there's a lot riding on this season for him personally. But I want to see it before I believe it..."
On Tuesday, Lincecum allowed one run over 1.1 innings in his Cactus League debut.
He allowed a double to Ben Zobrist, who scored after Lincecum threw two wild pitches.
"Well, it's a real good start and there's a lot riding on his spring," Krukow declared on KNBR 680-AM on Wednesday morning. "I think more so than any other spring he's ever had because has to prove to himself that he's got it going, that he can do what he has done in the past. Because of that, I think he's taking a little more interest in each start. The four 0-2 counts is significant. He was only throwing 89-90 miles per hour so he wasn't throwing real hard.
"More important than velocity is location and movement and he had those things yesterday. Not only that, but he was in a good release point to let his speciality pitches work for him, which really are his bread and butter ... he really has to be exact with his release point. That is something that has really dogged him the last several years. So if he can find that this year, he can be really, really get any 89-91 miles per hour, and that's what the hope is..."
The two-time Cy Young Award winner went ahead 0-2 on all four batters he faced, and was pleased with his fastball command.
“It’s not necessarily speed that I’m looking for, it’s the life,” Lincecum said. “Does it carry through the zone and get through the glove? I can kind of tell that by the swings they take. After the first batter, when I got a fastball by him, it was like, ‘OK, my fastball is there and it felt good.’ It gave me that confidence boost to kind of go to it even more.”
“I thought he had pretty good command with the fastball,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He and (Madison Bumgarner) both had good deliveries. I was pleased with how they threw."
Lincecum is entering the second of a two-year, $35 million deal he signed in October 2013.
He is slated to be the Giants' fifth starter, but with Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit in the mix, Lincecum may be constantly fighting for a spot in the rotation.
"There's more pressure on Lincecum," Krukow said. "There's more riding on each start, more riding on each pitch. He has to be good. He has to show Bruce Bochy that he belongs in that rotation. He has to show the baseball world that he is back, and more importantly than any of that is he has to prove to himself that he can do that."