SEATTLE (AP) — Tim Lincecum walked out of the Giants’ dugout to screams from a mix of autograph seekers and fans wishing the now 28-year-old a happy birthday.
Maligned for a disappointing 2-7 start to the season in San Francisco, Lincecum is still beloved in Seattle from his high school days at suburban Liberty High to his college career across town at Washington.
“I’m excited for it, a little nervous. It’s that good excitement, good nervousness. We’ll see what happens. It’s been awhile since I’ve pitched in front of anybody in Seattle,” Lincecum said before Friday’s series opener between the Giants and Mariners. “For it to be now, in this kind of stage, at this time in the season, when for me, I need to make my stand, I need to do something, I need to show people I’m still worth keeping in a rotation. Hopefully, this is a springboard. Right now, I feel good being here.
Six years after the Mariners bypassed Lincecum in the first round of the draft, Lincecum finally will make it to the Safeco Field mound on Saturday night for the second game of an interleague series. Three years ago, the last time the Giants visited the Pacific Northwest, the rotations didn’t line up for Lincecum to pitch in Seattle as part of his second Cy Young award winning season.
Now he’ll finally get that chance and with Lincecum struggling like he never has in his so far stellar career. He’s lost his last five decisions. His 6.00 ERA is the highest of his career and he’s made it through seven innings in just three of his 13 starts this year.
“That’s the toughest thing right now. You guys can see, the repetition, it’s not there,” Lincecum said. “I’ve got to get that muscle memory back where I’m throwing everything out of the same slot and everything looks the same. That’s what they used to say about me, I came out of the same slot.”
Lincecum’s return brings up painful memories for Mariners fans who still have not forgiven Seattle’s front office at the time for selecting Brandon Morrow with the fifth overall pick and seeing Lincecum, who was the Golden Spikes Award winner at the top collegiate player across town at Washington, taken five picks later by the Giants. Asked about the decision on Friday, Lincecum reiterated that he has no animosity toward Seattle for not selecting him.
“I was completely content with what happened that day. I was on the golf course when it happened and it was one of the best days of my life,’ Lincecum said.
Lincecum spent a significant amount of time posing for pictures and signing autographs down the left-field line after batting practice concluded on Friday night. Occasionally the throng broke out into “Happy Birthday,” with plenty in the crowd holding signs welcoming Lincecum back home.
“I feel like this is a comfort zone for me,” Lincecum said. “When I left for college the reason I went to (Washington) was because it was close to home. One of the things that benefited me when I got drafted was San Francisco was the closest team to home. I’m a homebody.”