Pitchers and catchers report to San Francisco Giants spring training on Tuesday, and they’ll have a much different Tim Lincecum upon arrival. The Giants ace put on some pounds and got a haircut, shaving off his long trademark locks and opting for a more clean-cut look.
Will the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner be better this year after going just 10-15 and posting a 5.18 ERA in 33 starts in 2012?
Chances are he will be because of the great success he has achieved in years past. It won’t be because of any haircut, though, and it won’t come easy.
Lincecum is on a mission after being relegated to the bullpen during the Giants’ World Series run just one season ago. "The Freak" appears focused and ready to get to work, not wanting to return to the bullpen again this season.
“In the years past I kind of used spring as work, just to get my work in, and if things go south, no big deal,” Lincecum said, according to Matt Wilhalme of the Los Angeles Times. “But now it's like I've got to prove myself. That game is just the same as it is when we're playing during the season.”
Proving himself in the spring is unknown territory for the former uncontested top pitcher in baseball. It’s something that came naturally since he exploded onto the baseball landscape in 2008.
At the same time, it may be just what he needs to focus and get himself back in the mindset to tackle a full 162-game season with the tenacity and dominance of years past.
In addition to chopping off his locks, Lincecum has added some weight during the offseason, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reported (via Twitter):
Lincecum said he's gained 8 lbs, to 170, which is what Giants wanted. (Minus weight of hair as well.) Did lots of resistance training.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) February 8, 2013
Adding weight and getting his mind right are positive steps in the right direction and will show immediate returns for the right-hander.
If Lincecum can continue that momentum throughout camp and into Opening Day, there is no reason to think he’ll be anything other than a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Giants this season.