Off the field, Lincecum moved into a $3.4-million home near the Giants spring training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., and cut his hair into a style suited to a job interview. “Usually, I take six months between each haircut because I am lazy. It’s nice to have something to upkeep, to take care of yourself.”
At the team’s fanfest prior to 2013 spring training, he described himself as an introspective person and admitted to being “embarrassed … not just for the jersey, but the name on the back. That’s reflective of my family and their work ethic.”
He said the negativity got to him, he lost confidence. And from Righetti, you get the impression a pitcher once deemed near unhittable tried to change too much, maybe because he was listening to too many advisers.
In his 2008-09 Cy Young Award seasons, he won a combined 33 games and fashioned ERAs of 2.62 and 2.48. Last Tuesday, he pitched like his old self, working quickly to hold the Jays to three hits in seven innings. In the clubhouse afterward, Lincecum looked like Paul Simon in his Graceland days, responding to questions in sound bites with a passive, slightly bored tone and blasé expression. In jeans and a light leather jacket, he would have fit seamlessly into the group at a Silicon Valley office building.
“I still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I’m not jumping up and down [in glee] right now. I’m just happy with what we did today. Tomorrow’s another day of work.”
He was, and is asked repeatedly about going to the bullpen. That’s not where the money resides, for an impending free agent. “Like I’ve said, my main focus today, and this year, is to be a good starter.”
It’s a futile appeal to fans paying their hard-earned money, Righetti knows, but he offers perspective anyway. “They’re human,” the coach said. “Their bodies change. The go from being a younger guy to an older guy. It’s evolution, part of life for everybody, and on top of that they’re doing something extraordinarily physical with their bodies. … It’s not Groundhog Day.”
For the Giants though, the calendar has arrived at what may be a make-or-break month, as they face a tough schedule heading into the all-star break.
To defend the World Series championship and take a third title in four seasons, they’ll need “Z” to be the reincarnated steady veteran of 2012, and Lincecum to figure out exactly what he is at this stage of his pitching career.