Tim Lincecum will be reporting to San Francisco Giants with a new look
SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum is in search of a fresh start, and the journey began in a barber’s chair.
Gone are the famously long locks that whipped around Lincecum’s head during his windup and would be soaking wet midway through his starts. Lincecum showed up at AT&T Park on Friday with a short, neatly styled cut and glasses without corrective lenses.
“He looks very professorial,” general manager Brian Sabean said.
The Giants are simply hoping the new-look Lincecum pitches like the old one, the two-time Cy Young Award winner who had a historic start to his career. That Lincecum disappeared last season, replaced by an out-of-sync starter who lost 15 games and had a 5.18 ERA. By the postseason, Lincecum wasn’t even a starter.
“Last year was a tough one to swallow, but I got through it,” Lincecum said. “Coming to the field today and being around all these guys, it’s kind of hard not to be positive. You feel like anything can happen.”
Lincecum was upbeat and said he decided to cut his hair in December. “It’s kind of a fresh slate,” he said.
The scissor-session wasn’t the only change to Lincecum’s offseason. He worked with new trainers and added weighted sleds, kettlebells and pull-ups to his offseason workout routine. He put on 8 to 10 pounds of muscle.
“It’s the way I put on the weight,” Lincecum said. “Pound for pound, I feel like I’m back where I can be. I can be more explosive.”
Lincecum’s weight has fluctuated in the past. He gained 30 pounds in 2011 before dropping it all before the 2012 season. The result was a mechanical mess. The muscular Lincecum who showed up Friday pleased manager Bruce Bochy, who said he’s eager to get his 2012 opening day starter back on a mound.
“He looks in great shape,” Bochy said. “It’s evident that he’s been working hard. I know Timmy wants to bounce back and have a nice year, and I thought he handled himself well with the ups and downs he had last year.”
The roller-coaster season included a trend that was easy to see and led many to believe there was a rift between Lincecum and catcher Buster Posey. Lincecum threw to backup Hector Sanchez 16 times during the regular season; he pitched to Posey 15 times. Asked if Lincecum and Posey would be back in step this season, Bochy said the process had already started.
“You saw two guys who worked very well together in the postseason,” Bochy said. “They’ll carry that into the spring. I don’t see that being an issue at all.”
Lincecum hopes to work with Posey more often this spring and said the two will have an increased comfort level. Posey was forceful when asked if the battery gets along.
“Timmy and I have a great relationship and ultimately we both want the same thing, and that’s to win,” Posey said. “It’s that simple.”
A return to his past winning ways not only would ease Lincecum’s mind but also pad his wallet. The right-hander will be a free agent after the season, and Sabean said the Giants intend to let him play out the final year of his contract before making a decision.
That year will start with a fresh slate and a new look, one that had teammates comparing Lincecum to Buddy Holly.
“He looks 12 now instead of 15,” right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said. “I’m jealous.”
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was sick and one of several Giants who did not show up for Friday’s media availability. Bochy had been eager to get a look at Sandoval and said they met Friday morning.
“We do have some work to do getting him ready for the season,” Bochy said when asked about Sandoval’s weight. “We’ll be working hard on the conditioning side.”
The Giants still haven’t ruled out a reunion with Brian Wilson, but they won’t change their stance that Wilson needs to make concessions. Sabean said the club still believes Wilson, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, needs to sign an incentive-laden deal. The All-Star closer continues his search for a deal with more guaranteed money.
“It’s their stance versus our stance,” Sabean said. “We’ll continue to monitor it.”
Sabean said he spoke with Ryan Theriot’s representatives in December, but Theriot wanted to wait before making a decision.
“We’ve lost contact,” Sabean said.
Sabean doesn’t anticipate Angel Villalona’s arrival in camp being a distraction. Villalona, a former top prospect, was arrested and charged with murder in 2009 after a shooting in the Dominican Republic. The charges were eventually dropped, and Villalona settled with the victim’s family. The 22-year-old first baseman has received a work visa and will be in camp next week.
“He’s been cleared by Major League Baseball and also the visa process,” Sabean said. “He’s just another player in camp.”
Left-hander Eric Surkamp has had no setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and expects to be starting games by July. Surkamp, 25, made six starts in 2011 and was being counted on to provide starting depth last spring before arm troubles shut him down. Surkamp had surgery last July and started throwing again in January.
Sabean said reliever Ramon Ramirez and infielder Wilson Valdez might not report to Scottsdale on time because of visa situations.
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area announced that it will televise 143 Giants games this season, 140 regular season and three exhibitions. Included are the season opener April 1 at 1 p.m. at the Los Angeles Dodgers and the home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5 at 1:30 p.m.