Programming note: Giants-Rangers coverage starts today at 4:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The photo is an iconic one. It shows Tim Lincecum, sitting on teammates' shoulders with his long hair flowing, holding one finger up and screaming as he celebrated the 2010 World Series title.
Lincecum was back on the field in Arlington Saturday, but five years later the circumstances are much different. He is no longer the ace. Now, Lincecum is just trying to get healthy enough to get back into a game.
Lincecum played catch Saturday and said it was his fifth throwing session since having two cortisone injections in his hips. He has been diagnosed with a degenerative condition in his hips, but Lincecum and the Giants are confident that he will return to the field this season.
“Definitely. With the way things have been progressing and the way my throwing program has been going, I don’t see any reason why not,” he said.
Lincecum is unlikely to return before rosters expand September 1, and when he does it will almost certainly be as a reliever. The rotation is full after the addition of Mike Leake, and the Giants also have Tim Hudson on the DL if they need another starter down the stretch. Lincecum said Leake was a good addition.
“We’ve been known to be a team that lives off our pitching, so right now in lieu of what’s going on, I think we kind of needed it,” he said. “It’s an extra spark.”
A future role isn’t currently on Lincecum’s mind. He’s just worried about getting healthy, and on Saturday he took another step by throwing about 50 pitches up to a distance of 115 feet. He said the cortisone feels like it’s working, and he’s not concerned about the fact that he’s been told he has a degenerative condition.
“You never want to hear something like that but they told us that if you look at the majority of players they’ve probably got something similar,” Lincecum said.
Lincecum said the hips started bothering him late last season, around the time a back injury popped up. He dealt with the back issues in the postseason and saw a physical therapist in the offseason. Lincecum was confident that this would be a bounce back season for him, but he had a 4.13 ERA before being put on the DL. Was the hip condition affecting his performance on the mound?
“I can’t really say, because some days it’s good and some days it’s not as good,” he said. “I’ve always kind of relied on getting on that mound with a matter of flexibility and stability and when it doesn’t feel right, you know, I’ve got to go about it another way. I think that’s kind of what’s led up to this.”
Lincecum did get good news during his visit to a specialist in Nashville. He said the injury “doesn’t scream surgery.”
“They thought the best case scenario with my symptoms was to get a little cortisone shot and give it a chance to calm down and let my cortisone work and allow the soft tissue around that area to kind of relax and not be firing all the time,” he said.
Lincecum remains one of the most popular Giants, and he stopped to sign autographs for a few minutes after his throwing session. While addressing reporters for the first time since the cortisone shots, Lincecum was told that fans still ask about his condition on a daily basis. He said he understands the concern.
“I’ve been in the position of caring about players,” Lincecum said. “I’m a fan of the Seahawks, so when players get hurt, I get worried, as well.”