Alex Pavlovic / San Jose Mercury News

What Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum lost on his head he gained in muscle with offseason workouts. He's gained about 10 pounds.

Giants' Lincecum is a cut above as spring training nears

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 - 2:04 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum's new haircut generated a buzz Friday.

"Very professorial," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

"He looks 12 now instead of 15," fellow starter Ryan Vogelsong said.

"He looks professional and younger," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "He's just – he knows he wants a fresh start. And I think he's got one."

A short winter removed from the most challenging season of his professional career, one that ended with him pitching out of the bullpen in the World Series, Lincecum appeared at AT&T Park on the eve of FanFest sporting a clean-cut look and a refreshed outlook on the coming season.

The slender right-hander said he has put on 8 to 10 pounds through offseason workouts designed to restore explosiveness to his delivery and anticipates returning to the starting rotation.

As for moving on from 2012, which saw him post a career-high 5.18 ERA and the fewest strikeouts (190) since his rookie season?

"I feel like I've done a good job already of that," Lincecum said.

Lincecum said he rested for about a month and a half after the World Series. He took a weeklong vacation to Mexico around the turn of the new year. He cleared his head after admittedly having his confidence shaken toward the end of the season and rebounded as a Swiss army knife reliever in the playoffs with a 0.69 ERA in 13 relief innings.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't get some negative thoughts in my head last year," he said. "But coming out of it and coming out the way we did … it put my mind in a different perspective, to do what I could again to take care of myself and work hard, so when I'm called upon, whether it's as a starting pitcher or reliever, I can do my job and do it with confidence."

Part of that, Lincecum believes, is harnessing his weight, which has fluctuated in recent years. The right-hander lost 30 pounds between the 2011 and 2012 seasons and said it left him weaker and likely played a part in throwing his mechanics out of whack.

This offseason, he ditched the swimming-heavy regimen he employed last winter and went to outside trainers in Bellevue, Wash., who put him through workouts emphasizing the kind of quick, dynamic movements he makes while pitching.

It was a different experience for Lincecum, who has monitored his own offseason workouts in the past. He said he pushed sleds, did pull-ups and used rubber bands for balance, and now weighs about 170 pounds.

"He looks great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He looks like he worked hard this winter and looks like he's ready to go."

Lincecum, 28, said he started throwing again about the same time he began working with the trainers and already feels like his mechanics are "more in sync and on time." He intends to pitch from his windup after dropping it altogether at times last year.

Lincecum said he'd still like to consider himself a power pitcher. But there was no denying last year his velocity dipped from past seasons, and he acknowledged he needs to be open to evolving from the pitcher who blew away hitters in back-to-back Cy Young seasons in 2008-09.

"Obviously, you're going to have to learn more things, and it's all a question of whether or not you want to accept that and make the change," Lincecum said. "I just try to adapt as I can. Last year was a big question mark for me, so this year will be a bigger one of maintaining my body and trying to get it back to where I was when I was successful."

Lincecum is set to make $22 million in the final year of a two-year contract. Sabean said Friday he doesn't expect the sides to discuss Lincecum's future with the Giants until after the season.

The Giants helped set up Lincecum with his offseason trainers, but Sabean said the team didn't give him a mandate regarding his workouts.

"The biggest mandate on his part is he's in a contract year," Sabean said. "I think he understands that."

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