By JOSE M. ROMERO
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Tim Lincecum decided that the best way to regain the form that led to two NL Cy Young Awards was to acknowledge father knows best. And that wasn’t easy.
Lincecum enters his ninth season with the San Francisco Giants projected as the No. 5 starter this year. To earn that spot, he’ll have to show he’s fixed his complicated mechanics and put behind three straight seasons of ERAs over 4.00.
In search of answers, Lincecum returned home to suburban Seattle in the offseason and worked with his father. Chris Lincecum put his son on a throwing regimen of 50 sessions. And Tim let his hair grow long again.
“It’s a total 180 for me. I’ve never gotten after it like that in an offseason before, throwing as often as I did, as rigorously as I did,” Lincecum said Wednesday at the Giants’ spring training camp. “I didn’t feel like my mechanics were in a place where I could rely on them. They’ve been kind of out of whack for a while now.”
Lincecum also rebuilt a relationship with dad. They had not been so close in recent years.
Admitting both are stubborn, Lincecum realized he needed his father to help his career and said it was freeing and humbling to open up with Chris. After going 49-22 from 2008-10 and helping the Giants to their first title since 1954, Lincecum found it hard to explain a bad outing to his dad, who taught him how to pitch.
“He’s always been the one that kind of reaffirmed, re-ignites that idea of `our mechanics,’ Lincecum said. “I went to him. That was tough. It’s like a kid with a bad report card saying `I tried to do it on my own.’ And they’re there to remind you that it’s never going to be that way. I’m just going to hear him out and know where he’s coming from is a place of being a father and caring and also being scared, too.”
Despite throwing a no-hitter for the second straight season, Lincecum pitched so poorly in the second half last year that the Giants moved the four-time All-Star to the bullpen for the second time in three postseasons. He made just one postseason appearance.
Lincecum wasn’t among the Giants pitchers who threw bullpen sessions Thursday as the World Series champions returned to the field for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.
Chris Lincecum is at spring training along with his son, and the two plan to continue to talk pitching.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy thinks Lincecum is primed to bounce back after going 12-9 with a 4.74 ERA.
“The most important thing out of this is it’s great to see he and his dad back and getting reunited,” Bochy said. “I’m sure there’s a sense of comfort there with all the time that his dad has spent with him, and Timmy’s trying to get on track. If his dad can help out, that’s great. We’re all for it.”
NOTES: Madison Bumgarner threw his first bullpen session since last season, when he pitched five shutout innings to save Game 7 of the World Series and earned the MVP award. Bochy joked that Bumgarner wouldn’t just be the opening-day starter but is “going the second game, too.” … RHP Matt Cain will not throw bullpens every other day as he continues his comeback from elbow and ankle operations that cut short his 2014 season. … Reliever Sergio Romo is dealing with right shoulder soreness and won’t throw as much early in camp. “We don’t foresee any major setback there,” Bochy said. … C Eli Whiteside, who retired after turning down the offer of a minor league contract from Atlanta, will be the Giants’ bullpen catcher this season. The 35-year-old was with the Giants from 2009-12.
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