SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It has become almost a yearly routine at Scottsdale Stadium. Tim Lincecum shows up to camp, talks of his offseason adjustment and then goes out and tries to find his old form. Lincecum hasn’t been able to turn the offseason work into sustained regular season success the past three seasons, but one of his new teammates believes he might be on the verge of turning a corner.
Casey McGhee was one of four Giants starters to face Lincecum during a live BP session on Sunday. Afterward, McGehee said he was encouraged by what he saw.
“He looks like the guy I remember,” McGehee said. “The ball is coming out of his hand really (well) and he’s got good finish on his pitches. His deception is back to the way I remember.”
McGehee said the Lincecum he saw Sunday reminded him of the pitcher who used his unique delivery and big-time stuff to win two Cy Young awards. The mid-90s fastball is gone, but Lincecum hopes to find some of that old success by maintaining consistent mechanics.
It’s hard to take much away from the first few weeks of spring training, but it’s at least worth noting that two of the Giants hitters to face Lincecum this week called him “deceptive.” Brandon Belt used the same description Friday. Lincecum had mixed results Sunday. He threw one of his first pitches by Buster Posey and got a big swing-and-miss out of Hunter Pence on a good diving curveball. When Lincecum later left a ball up, Pence lined it a long way foul down the right field line. The hitters met with Lincecum after the session and appeared pleased by the way he was throwing.
“It was hard to pick the ball up out of his hand,” McGehee said. “With his mechanics, there are a lot of moving parts.”
McGehee was 3 for 9 against Lincecum last year, hitting a homer in a game at Marlins Park. Prior to last season’s success, he was 1 for 8 against Lincecum with three strikeouts.
“There was something different (the last three years) but I don’t know if I could tell you what it was,” McGehee said. “But I could tell you that something was different.”
The Giants hope McGhee is right and that Lincecum has found at least some semblance of that old form. They’ll get a better look over the next week when Cactus League games begin. Lincecum is scheduled to “piggyback” a starter during one of the first four games, throwing an inning or two out of the bullpen.
Madison Bumgarner starts the spring opener Tuesday, followed by Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit. Manager Bruce Bochy said there’s no significance to the fact that Lincecum is not starting one of the first four games. Starters often pitch out of the bullpen early in camp, and Lincecum has already been locked into the regular season rotation.
Matt Cain (elbow surgery) will make his spring debut around March 10 and Tim Hudson (ankle surgery) is scheduled to get in a game shortly after that. Cain faced hitters Sunday for the first time since last July. How did it feel?
“It felt like I was pitching,” he deadpanned.