Programming note: For comprehensive Giants coverage from Arizona, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 6, 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the opening day of his first camp as a 30-year-old, Tim Lincecum compared himself to a kid trying to hide a bad report card from his father.
The Cs and Ds in this case were Lincecum’s results the past three years, so it was time to once again call upon Chris Lincecum, who created and honed his son’s unique mechanics. Father and son had grown apart a bit in recent years, and Tim said he was the one who initiated the intense and emotional offseason reunion.
“That was tough,” Lincecum said, smiling. “It’s like saying, ‘I tried to do it on my own,’ and he’s there just to remind you that it’s never going to be that way. It’s obviously a ‘tail-between-my-legs’ type of thing but I needed that help. It was definitely freeing for me to be able to say that to him and him understanding where I’m coming from.”
Lincecum said he he had to apologize when he initiated the conversation, and his father reminded him that they got here together and must continue to stick together. It wasn’t long before the intense work started. By the middle of November, Lincecum was back on a throwing program, one that had him pitching off a mound or flat ground four to five times a week and usually at more than 90 percent effort. While most pitchers wait until late December or early January to pick up a ball, Lincecum said he threw about 50 times under the watchful eye of his father.
“He knows my mechanics better than me, even,” said Lincecum. “They’ve been out of whack for a while now. I think repetition is the big thing for me. Going out there and continuing to do the right mechanics and knowing why they’re doing it is another big thing for me. Growing up with my dad, we talked about how it was more that I listened to what he said as opposed to knowing what he meant, and I think this year I got a bigger understanding of my mechanics and why my body needs to be in certain positions.”
If Lincecum, who once again is sporting long hair, needs a refresher course this spring, help will be nearby. Chris arrived in Scottsdale on Tuesday and will stay about a month. After months of working side-by-side, Tim is looking forward to leaning on his father as he tries to recover from a season during which he was bounced from the rotation and made just one postseason appearance.
“We definitely had the same kind of relationship as we did when I was younger,” he said of the offseason sessions. “We’re both very stubborn individuals so those moments came out where he had to go take a smoke break — that happened quite a bit, but we learned to love each other regardless and just kind of move on knowing that we’re just kind of fighting for the same thing. I have that dying will in me that ‘I want to do it my way, I want to do it my way, dad.’ He’s just there to remind me that it’s not going to be that way.”
Lincecum spoke a couple of hours after manager Bruce Bochy revealed that Lincecum is all but locked into the rotation, with Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit set as long relievers. After posting ERAs of 5.18, 4.37 and 4.74 the past three seasons, Lincecum said he feels he has to “re-earn my spot in the rotation.”
“I didn’t finish off the year very well last year at all, and that kind of left a drive in me to kind of want to get that back and discover what went wrong,” he said.
Lincecum was pulled from the rotation in late August and said that even before the season ended he knew he had to call his father and find a new offseason plan. The two have worked on refining Tim's mechanics, identifying the “bullet points” that he needs to hit during his complex journey to the plate, and being efficient with his movement. Lincecum called this a reset, saying it was easy to embrace after a humbling season. When it was over, Lincecum had his third ring, and he knew exactly who he had to call as he tried to put himself in a position to contribute to the push for a repeat.
“You can’t hide your report card all summer, can you?” he said, laughing. “I’ve tried.”
Alex Pavlovic will appear on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight at 5, 7 & 11 to recap the Giants' first day of spring training.