Programming note: For the most comprehensive World Series coverage, watch "SportsNet Central: October Quest" Friday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and immediately after Game 3 on Comcast SportsNet Plus
SAN FRANCISCO -– Tim Lincecum lifted his left leg, turned his torso and fired the baseball.
Then he took five steps back and did it again. Five steps back, and again.
With every backwards step, he made forward progress toward being available to pitch out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the World Series.
“It felt normal,” a smiling, upbeat Lincecum told me after playing catch on flat ground Thursday. “Everything felt normal.”
[BAGGS: Bochy awaits results of Lincecum MRI]
Normal is good when you’ve just come back from a meditation session in the MRI chamber. Lincecum took himself out of Tuesday’s Game 2 loss at Kauffman Stadium, cutting short his first postseason appearance this year because of a sudden twinge in his left lower back.
Lincecum said he’s dealt with pain in his sacroiliac joint ever since he hit a growth spurt as a kid, and while it comes and goes, it seldom lingers. He felt much better even before playing catch, and that was after sitting on a four-hour flight from Kansas City on Thursday.
As long as Lincecum is healthy, it’s clear that he’ll move ahead of struggling right-handers Jean Machi (9.00 ERA in September, scored upon in three of five playoff appearances) and Hunter Strickland (five homers allowed this postseason).
“I like the way he threw the ball today,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum after Game 2. “It's been a while since he pitched. But I thought overall he looked good for the long layoff. So he can be in the mix.
“I was happy for him. He should feel good about how he threw the ball. He's going to be a guy that if he's healthy, we'll probably use in that (sixth to seventh inning) area.”
Dr. Ken Akizuki and head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner observed Lincecum as he threw for just under five minutes. The club didn't make MRI results available, but they wouldn't have let him pick up a baseball if the scans had shown any structural issues.