"I'm not going to get all cocky ... but I like going right at you"
You won’t find the Giants near the top of the N.L. West this season, but righthander Tim Lincecum is at or near the top of just about every leader board when it comes to pitching stats. Lincecum recently spoke with Sporting News Today’s Stan McNeal about his outstanding sophomore effort.
Q: Have you cleared off a spot on the mantel for the Cy Young Award?
A: I don’t know about that. I’m still trying to get used to hearing my name mentioned with it. I know it’s been thrown around a couple of times lately, but I try not to read too much into it.
Q: You lead the N.L. in strikeouts, ERA and batting average against, and are among the leaders in innings pitched (215 2/3 after his complete game against Arizona Thursday night).
Which of those numbers means the most to you?
A: Hitting the 200 mark for innings definitely was a big number for me. It’s nice to know I can hold up through a season like this.
Q: You already have pitched nearly 70 innings more than you did last season as a rookie. How do you feel?
A: I feel good. The season turns into a grind, and sometimes—like after a bad game—you find yourself not wanting to do all the things between starts you’re supposed to, but you have to plow through it.
Q: Are you good with the Giants tweaking their rotation to give you three more starts in an attempt to win the Cy Young?
A: They’re not doing anything they think will risk my health. (Manager Bruce Bochy) goes on what I tell him, and I’m telling him I still feel fine, I still feel strong. It’s good they’re showing such confidence in me.
Q: How often do you check the stadium speed boards to see how hard you’re throwing?
A: I glance at it once in a while to see where I’m at. My pitches tend to move more if they’re slower than usual. It also can help me know if I might be able to get away with a mistake. If you’re throwing 96, you might be able to blow one down the middle past a hitter. But if you don’t have your best stuff and try to blow one past at 92 mph, you are more likely to get hurt.
Q: What’s the fastest you’ve seen your fastball this season?
A: I think 97-98 mph once or twice. I don’t look at it every pitch, more like inning to inning to know what I’m at.
Q: Much has been made of your size (5-11, 170) and youthful appearance. When was the last time a stadium security guard doubted you were a player?
A: We were in San Diego, and already had gone through the gate where the taxi drops you off. Then we see a lady at another gate, and she is working to get into the stadium. She sees me and asks, ‘What are you doing?’ She actually talked to me like I was a little kid. When I told her I’d already gone through one gate and she checked, she went, ‘Oh my God, you look so young.’ I said, ‘I know. I hear it all the time.’ I just roll with it.”
Q: Your dad is about your size and he also throws hard, or used to throw hard. When were you able to throw harder than him?
A: We never gunned him, but he was throwing batting practice at my brother’s practice when he was close to 50, and he hit 86. Ten years ago (at 14), I wasn’t throwing that hard. Sometime during high school, I probably was throwing harder. No way he’s going to catch me anymore. He can’t see.
Q: What is your No. 1 asset as a pitcher?
A: I like to keep (my) poise out there, and not get too flustered. And I like to go after guys. I’m not going to get all cocky or anything, but I like going right at you.
Q: We won’t ask you who’s your pick for N.L. Cy Young, but what about MVP?
A: I’d have to stay Albert Pujols. He’s stayed consistent all year. He’s right behind Chipper (Jones) in batting average, has driven in a lot of runs and is such a clutch hitter.
Q: What hitters have given you trouble?
A: Chris Ianetta, the Rockies catcher. Conor Jackson, Todd Helton is a tough guy for me. I don’t like facing (Carlos) Delgado. They’ve all been able to hit good pitches. If they look confident up there against me, it makes me want to rise to the occasion. But they’re making me look foolish sometimes.
Q: Your dad taught you your delivery at a young age. How much has it changed?
A: I’ve stayed consistent with my mechanics. I still have the head lean, the dangle and the long stride. Learning my delivery at such a young age has helped me learn how to make adjustments in myself. I can feel in my body what I’m doing wrong. This season, I can make adjustments from pitch to pitch instead of game to game. Like if I leave a ball up, I can tell what I’ve done wrong and figure out what adjustment to make before the next pitch.