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09/11/09 10:00 PM ET

Lincecum set for bullpen session

Giants ace's back feels good after playing catch, running

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants ace Tim Lincecum is expected to throw off a bullpen mound Saturday, which would be a likely precursor to his starting a game during San Francisco's series against the Colorado Rockies next Monday through Wednesday.

If Lincecum avoids any recurrence of the back spasms that prevented him from making his scheduled start last Tuesday against San Diego, he conceivably could return to his regular spot in the rotation and pitch Monday.

"We don't have a target for a certain game, but that's a possibility," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Friday.

Lincecum said that Bochy, the coaching staff and the medical staff will determine when he starts again.

"They're going to gauge me and see where I am," said Lincecum, who's 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA and a Major League-high 233 strikeouts.

Throwing for the first time since he was sidelined, Lincecum played catch on flat ground Friday for about five to 10 minutes with bullpen catcher Bill Hayes, peaking at a distance of about 100 feet. The National League's reigning Cy Young Award winner appeared to throw freely and without pain as he stood on the left-field foul line in front of the Giants' bullpen. After throwing, Lincecum ran along the outfield warning track.

"We kept it simple," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "We just wanted to make sure there was no tightness or cramping at all."

Before throwing, Lincecum said that his back has continued to improve.

"Right now I feel as close to normal as I can," he said.

Rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner probably would replace Lincecum if he were unable to face the Rockies. Replacing Lincecum on Tuesday, Bumgarner, the Giants' most heralded pitching prospect, allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and left the game with a 3-2 lead but ultimately received no decision in San Francisco's 4-3 loss.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.