2/8/2013 7:48 P.M. ET
Seeking fresh start, Lincecum has fresh look
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum delivered his version of an extreme makeover Friday at AT&T Park: Short, neatly groomed hair, recalling the coiffure he sported during his first two Major League seasons. Non-prescription, dark-rimmed eyeglasses straight out of study hall.
"Very professorial," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said in appraisal.
"He looks like he's 12 now instead of 15," right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said jokingly.
Lincecum downplayed the changes.
"It's just a different look," the right-hander said. "I got tired of the long hair."
Lincecum knows that his new style, which he adopted in early December, means nothing compared to the substance of the performance that he hopes to maintain this season.
"I feel like the same person, minus the haircut," said Lincecum, who's among the Giants appearing at Saturday's FanFest.
The Giants hope that Lincecum is the same pitcher they saw before last season, one in which his 10-15 record and 5.18 ERA, both career worsts, contrasted dramatically with the 69-41 mark and two National League Cy Young Awards that distinguished his resume through 2011.
Sabean noted that Lincecum will become eligible for free agency after this season, a prospect which often goads players into excelling.
"He understands what's at stake," said Sabean, who echoed Lincecum by declining to address contract-related issues until the season ends. "I think he's looking forward to the challenge, because he's a competitive kid."
Lincecum appeared to embrace the chance to influence his fate for the better. The Seattle resident spent much of his offseason working out at Impact Performance in Bellevue, Wash., where he was steered by the Giants' athletic training staff. Focused on strengthening his core, pitching shoulder and legs, Lincecum explained that his goal was "just trying to get my body into more of an explosive and dynamic motion that I had before, where I was getting down the mound and following through over that front leg."
Having begun throwing, Lincecum already has noticed improvement in his pitching mechanics, which he said were flawed virtually all last year. "I feel like my lower half is below me now, and I'm not trying to create too much with my upper half, which is not creating an out-of-whack motion," he said. "It's more just in sync and on time."
Lincecum also has supplemented his workouts with a healthy diet. "I ate a lot more salads," said the man who once sought fast-food burgers to fuel himself. Lincecum still added muscle and gained eight to 10 pounds. He said that he weighs 170, the figure Giants athletic trainers targeted for him.
The 28-year-old strengthened his mental outlook by consulting left-hander Barry Zito, a teammate who last year achieved the turnaround that Lincecum is attempting to execute.
"I think he's starting to evolve into a complete, well-rounded Major League player," Zito said. "When you have just the one side, all that glory and all that good stuff, there's that other side that I think a lot of guys experience. And they're always better for it when they do. I think Timmy experienced something last year that was new for him, and the way he's reacting to it and the adjustments he's going to make are indicative of the kind of guy that he is."
Lincecum may have launched his reversal during last year's postseason. Sent to the bullpen due to his underwhelming results as a starter, Lincecum allowed one run and three hits in five outings. He struck out 17 and issued just two walks in 13 innings.
Lincecum thrived in October with his changeup, a pitch he relied upon in his dominant years. This success marked Lincecum's continuing transition from being a power pitcher to a pitcher, period.
"I think he knows it's more how he controls the strike zone, increasing his strike percentage, maybe pitching to contact more," Sabean said.
Lincecum seemed prepared for the fresh opportunity of a new season. Resembling a poet with his new glasses, he sounded like one, too.
"As an introspective person, I kind of go on any river that will take me to an answer," he said. "Last year, I had a lot of questions. I was trying to change a lot of things at once. [I'm] getting my mind back to a stable point where I know what I'm doing and I know why I'm doing it. I feel like my confidence is back."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.