SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In a sense, Tim Lincecum is a descendant of some of the game's greatest pitchers, including Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller and Satchel Paige. Lincecum's skill, however, is his alone. Lincecum's electric arm has made him the most-scrutinized player in camp, with the possible exception of resident stars Barry Bonds and Barry Zito. The right-hander's ability to generate searing fastballs and parabolic curveballs from his slender frame -- officially listed as 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds -- makes him a magnet for attention.
"If he was 6-4, they'd still be excited but they wouldn't be saying all these things," said Chris Lincecum, Tim's father. The excitement surrounding Tim Lincecum is almost palpable. Having recorded a 1.71 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings over eight professional outings after the Giants selected him 10th overall in last June's First-Year Player Draft, Lincecum just might sustain his momentum and make his Major League debut this season. The elder Lincecum is partly responsible for turning his son into an object of fascination. As a youth, Chris Lincecum was a precursor of his son, an aspiring pitcher with a slight build. Although Chris Lincecum grew up long before television disseminated big-league images everywhere, he saw enough film of certain established pitchers to gain a heightened understanding of pitching techniques. "As far as Koufax, it was his curveball and his form," Chris Lincecum recalled. "I saw Satchel Paige's looseness, Feller's body mechanics and Bob Gibson's follow-through." His own style, Lincecum found, "was between all of them." Living in suburban Seattle, Lincecum didn't make baseball a career, but he shared the intricacies of pitching with anybody who would listen. "I cared about the kids," he said. After a while, though, he had only one pupil. "I stopped," he said, "because I wanted to watch Timmy's rise." Tim eagerly absorbed Dad's wisdom, even if it wasn't clear to outsiders. They found that by employing a long stride and a whiplike arm motion, Tim could throw harder than much bigger pitchers. His 491 strikeouts at the University of Washington, a Pacific-10 Conference record, served as proof of this. So did the .127 batting average opponents compiled against him in the Minors last season. Some observers have criticized Lincecum's habit of wrapping his right arm behind his right leg as he rears back in his windup. Skeptics call it an unorthodox tendency that could lead to an injury.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.