Tim Lincecum Impressing Teammates, Showing Consistency in Spring Training


Tim Lincecum won his third World Series title with the San Francisco Giants in 2014, but individually, he had a disappointing season last year. He finished last season with a 4.74 ERA, he was removed from the Giants’ starting rotation, and he only made one postseason appearance in 2014.

Over the past few offseasons, Lincecum has made several adjustments to his delivery, to his preparation, and even to his hair in an attempt to return to his old dominant ways and find some consistency that he has been severely lacking for a few seasons now. Lincecum has entered the past few Spring Trainings announcing these adjustments with the hopes of establishing a positive rhythm, but he has struggled before to find that consistency during spring.

Will it be the same this Spring Training?

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Success in Spring Training doesn’t necessarily mean anything or translate to any particular success in the regular season, but so far this spring, Lincecum is showing why he could possibly have a resurgent season in 2015.

At the beginning of Spring Training, Bruce Bochy announced the Lincecum will return to the starting rotation in 2015 and that Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit will pitch out of the bullpen as long relievers.

Lincecum also spoke at the beginning of Spring Training about his reunion with his father, Chris Lincecum, who helped construct and develop Tim’s funky, freaky delivery. Tim and Chris had grown apart recently, but Tim sought his father’s advice in the offseason, in order to fine-tune his mechanics. Tim said his father knows his mechanics even better than he does himself, and even though apologizing to his father was tough, Tim hopes that his father’s help can revitalize his career.

Last Friday, Lincecum threw a live batting practice session, and his delivery appeared to be the same as when he was at his best, perhaps thanks to his father. Both Brandon Belt and Bochy were impressed with Lincecum’s pitching that day, according to Alex Pavlovic of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area.

"“The fastball was deceptive,” said first baseman Brandon Belt, one of three hitters to face Lincecum. “It got on you a lot quicker than expected.”Belt added that Lincecum’s curveball “had some bite,” a good sign on a sunny day in the desert, which “is notorious for making your breaking ball not break,” Belt said. Lincecum faced Belt, Joaquin Arias and Andrew Susac on the back field at Scottsdale Stadium and seemed to be pleased with his outing. He fist-bumped manager Bruce Bochy on his way off the field but had already left for the day when reporters were allowed in the clubhouse.“He looked good,” Bochy said. “He threw the ball well. He had a great delivery, free and easy. Command, everything. It was a good outing for him.”…“He’s been pretty good with his rhythm,” Bochy said. “His delivery has been consistent since he got here.”"

Lincecum then threw another live batting practice session on Sunday. Casey McGehee, one of the newest Giants and one of the few Giants that has faced Lincecum as an opponent, not a teammate, raved about Lincecum’s pitching on Sunday. Pavlovic again with the report:

"“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.”…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.”"

Pavlovic did report in that article though that Lincecum also faced Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in the session and had mixed results against those two sluggers. He threw a couple tough pitches past both players, but he also left a ball up to Pence, who hit a hard line drive that went just foul down the right field line.

The hitters met with Lincecum after the session and gave him a good report though.

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow is optimistic about Lincecum’s progress so far in Spring Training, but he’s being cautious about his optimism. He spoke about this during a KNBR interview on Monday:

"“Well hey, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed because he’s a huge, huge, part of the Giants’ hope this year,” Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow told KNBR 680-AM on Monday morning. “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…”"

Lincecum’s progress should be taken with a grain of salt. There’s plenty of reason for speculation here because of Lincecum’s lack of consistency and because this is just Spring Training. Krukow is right that Lincecum is a key part to the Giants’ success in 2015, so hopefully for Lincecum, the Giants, and Giants fans, Lincecum will bounce back in 2015.

He might not be quite as dominant and deceptive as the Lincecum that won two Cy Young Awards, but a more effective and consistent Lincecum in 2015 could really help propel the Giants to another long postseason run.

Next: Giants Mailbag: Belt, Backup C, Non-Roster Invitees

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