Feb. 18, 2007
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)-- Tim Lincecum looks like a bat boy and knows it.
People guess his age at "anywhere from 18 to 21, tops," he said, admittedly gleeful to be in major league camp with San Francisco this spring.
He's actually 22, with a slender build and a powerful right arm that has the Giants extremely excited.
"Impressive, boy. That's a great, loose arm. He came out firing today. This kid has a special talent."
Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants manager.
Lincecum, touted as the team's top prospect in 2007 and being treated as a starter for now, had an impressive first day Friday in a brief throwing session off the mound.
"Impressive, boy," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's a great, loose arm. He came out firing today. This kid has a special talent."
Lincecum pitched in only eight professional games last season, at two levels of Class-A ball. He combined to go 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
He has a unique, contorted delivery -- learned from his father -- that would cause most people to throw their back out but allows him to be a power pitcher despite his size: 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. San Francisco's coaches aren't going to mess with it.
"It works well with my body, it's kept me from getting hurt, and it helps me get as much as possible from my slender frame," Lincecum said. "(Coaches) always shied away from trying to help me because of how unorthodox it is or they say it is. They really haven't tried to change me at all, anywhere."
Lincecum pitched in the Cape Cod League in 2005 after his sophomore season at Washington and took a line drive off the head, causing him to miss a week with a concussion. He returned as a closer and has been going great since then. The two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and the career strikeout leader for the conference with 491 Ks went 12-4 with three saves and a 1.94 ERA in 22 games and 17 starts for the Huskies last year.
At Scottsdale Stadium, he dresses not far from the team's pair of superstar Barrys: Bonds and Zito.
"You go around and look at all the name tags above the lockers and they're guys you idolized," Lincecum said. "It's kind of surreal. With Barry Bonds and Barry Zito next to you, you try not to be too wide-eyed and just do your thing."
He laughs about his youthful appearance, saying, "It's not too much of a problem. I kind of expect, 'Hey, he's a bat boy."
Much more than a bat boy, actually.
General manager Brian Sabean plans to see Lincecum in action for an intrasquad game later this month, and he knows the pitcher's progress will be one of many intriguing story lines this spring -- behind Bonds and Zito, of course.
"It's possible he could open a lot of eyes in this camp," Sabean said. "We're going to pick how we introduce him into these games."
Whether Lincecum makes the opening day roster remains to be seen.
"We're going to stay open-minded here," Bochy said.