SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Given Tim Lincecum's lofty status, his eight-minute throwing session off a practice mound Friday was more of a preview than an exercise. Lincecum pitched exclusively out of the stretch, denying onlookers a chance to view his unorthodox catapult-style delivery from the windup. But the right-hander still displayed the lively fastball that prompted the Giants to select him 10th overall in last June's First-Year Player Draft. Reaction to Lincecum's effort recalled the excitement Matt Cain generated two springs ago when he inspired then-manager Felipe Alou to compare him with Tom Seaver after throwing batting practice.
"Impressive, boy," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. "That's a great, loose arm. He came out firing today. This kid has a special talent." "He's got electric stuff," general manager Brian Sabean said. Bochy didn't quash speculation that Lincecum could make the Opening Day roster, although the 22-year-old made only eight professional appearances last year -- none above Class A -- after being drafted. "We're going to stay open-minded here," Bochy said coyly. Along with his fastball and a handful of curveballs and changeups, Lincecum showed off a hint of his unusual style. He "wrapped" the ball around the back of his right thigh as he reared back for each pitch. Skeptics believe that this invites an arm injury, but Lincecum, who's listed at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, needs his delivery to help him impart force. "They're the kind of mechanics that work well with my body," said Lincecum, who was taught his motion by his father, Chris. "It's kept me from getting hurt or injured and being as efficient as possible with the slender frame that I have." The Giants are grooming Lincecum to start, but his limited bullpen experiences at the University of Washington last season and in the Cape Cod League in 2005 could help him if the Giants decide to indoctrinate him into the Majors as a reliever.
After straining his right oblique in the Giants' home opener and finishing 2006 with a 7-10 record and a 4.74 ERA, Lowry began an offseason workout program that included exercises promoted by fitness expert Pete Egoscue. Lowry pronounced himself "100 percent better" after following Egoscue's program stressing flexibility and core strength. "Flexibility was something I struggled with in the past," Lowry said. Four times a week, Lowry joined teammate Kevin Correia and fellow Major Leaguers Mark Loretta and Mike Sweeney to perform Egoscue's exercises, which the left-hander said might seem familiar to yoga enthusiasts. They also engaged in more conventional workouts. Briefly: Bochy spoke with Zito a day after the left-hander revealed an altered pitching delivery, which drew considerable media attention. "I think he was surprised they made that big an issue out of it," Bochy said. Of course, Zito's seven-year, $126 million contract is bound to magnify everything he does "I think he understands it," Bochy said. "But at the same time, it does take a little getting used to." Bochy watched carefully as would-be closer Armando Benitez threw off a practice mound and participated in drills. "He wasn't favoring anything, so that's good news," Bochy said of Benitez, who has knee problems.
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