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02/22/10 9:45 PM EST

Lincecum shakes rust off curveball

Giants ace pleased with pitches' break, if not location

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This is the time for experimenting and regaining form, not for pinpoint perfection. So it didn't matter Monday morning when Tim Lincecum repeatedly bounced his curveball during his bullpen session.

Several of Lincecum's curves ricocheted off catcher Eli Whiteside after hitting the dirt. This prompted somebody to suggest that the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and right-hander Joe Martinez, who threw to Whiteside in the previous pitching group, should treat their receiver to lunch.

Whiteside actually gave Lincecum some positive feedback to chew on.

"Eli said the break was good and sharp," Lincecum said, explaining that though the curveballs came up short, they traveled at the desired angle. "I'd rather start my curveballs off in the dirt [than too high]."

Lincecum noted that once he finds his timing, his pitches will regain their desired combination of movement and depth.

Overall, manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti have been encouraged by the sharpness they have seen from the pitchers in camp.

"[Righetti] feels like this is the best group he's had in quite a while," Bochy said.

Though rain drenched the Giants for the third day in a row, Bochy said that the precipitation has not denied San Francisco's batterymen any preparation time.

"It would be nice to get on the field, but the pitchers are getting their work and the catchers are getting their swings in and are doing drills inside the [batting] cage," Bochy said.

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