GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Tim Lincecum's troublesome blister is steadily improving.
"It doesn't feel like a bee sting anymore," Lincecum said, smiling.
Still, Lincecum and the Giants decided to remain cautious Thursday. The right-hander was scratched from a scheduled start for the second time in six days as he continued to get treatment for the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
Instead of facing the Cleveland Indians, Lincecum played a spirited game of catch with Barry Zito and threw off a bullpen mound. Afterward, Lincecum said he's aiming for a Saturday return to game action.
Lincecum threw 26 pitches during the bullpen session, including a slider and changeup that aggravate the blister. He stopped several times to look down at his hand but said he didn't have any issues.
"Today was good news," he said. "I felt good the whole time. (The blister) held up."
Lincecum has dealt with blister problems in the past, most notably during the 2010 postseason. Back then, he pitched through the discomfort, but the Giants can afford to let this blister heal. Lincecum has made just one Cactus League appearance, throwing 11/3 innings Feb. 26.
With spring training extended this year to account for the World Baseball Classic, Lincecum still has nearly a month before April 3, his first scheduled regular-season start.
"There's all this time left," manager Bruce Bochy said. "(The blister) is a lot better. Is it perfect? No."
Lincecum came in on Wednesday's off-day to continue to work on toughening the skin where the blister lies. He said the recovery process has been longer than expected, but he remained confident he can face the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
"The blister was so deep," he said. "It could have become a further problem if I had (pitched) today. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back on the field and throwing to live batters."
Notes – When the Giants approached Chad Gaudin in the offseason and asked the right-hander to join his ninth organization, Gaudin didn't need a hard sell.
"They're the World Series champs," he said. "Watching from afar, it looked special here. It looked fun."
Gaudin is hoping to join in, and through nearly a month of spring training, he has done little to hurt his cause. He took the ball on short notice because of Lincecum's blister and threw three shutout innings in his first start of the spring, giving up two hits and striking out two.
The 29-year-old has given up two runs in 8 1/3 innings this spring and is a strong candidate to make the Opening Day roster as a long reliever.
Hunter Pence had two run-scoring singles and Brandon Belt had a two-run double, but the Giants lost to the Indians 6-4 at Goodyear Ballpark. Brandon Crawford went 2 for 3 and scored twice.
The Indians broke the game open in the fifth inning when Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back homers off prospect Heath Hembree.
Brett Pill missed the game, saying he "tweaked" his knee. Pill, hitting .273 with two home runs this spring, hoped to be back in the lineup today.
Andres Torres (abdominal strain) could pinch hit this weekend, Bochy said, and Tony Abreu (strained quadriceps) is getting close to returning.