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Lincecum crisp in Minor League outing

Lincecum crisp in Minor League outing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Call it irony or coincidence. Either way, the past, present and future of Giants pitching formed an intriguing convergence literally within the range of a foul popup at the club's Minor League training complex Monday.

Representing the future on one diamond was left-hander Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco's No. 1 selection in last June's First-Year Player Draft, who faced Oakland A's farmhands in an exhibition game.

The present was very much in evidence on an adjacent field, where right-hander Tim Lincecum, striving to prepare for the regular season, worked five effective innings against Oakland's Class A Stockton outpost.

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The past was embodied by Jerome Williams, all of 26 years old, who formerly enjoyed the prized status that now surrounds Lincecum and Bumgarner. Williams, who was released after last season by the Washington Nationals, stopped by to try to coax Giants officials into re-signing him.

For the Giants, the focus remained on Lincecum, who had pitched only seven innings all spring, due partly to a mildly strained right groin, and needed extra work. He got it, striking out eight, walking only one, hitting a batter and throwing 85 pitches. Lincecum allowed two runs and five hits, none of which were struck particularly hard, and went to a three-ball count just three times.

"I feel like I'm on schedule now," said Lincecum, the projected No. 3 starter who'll probably make his regular-season debut April 2 at Los Angeles.

The Giants could have sent Lincecum to Tucson, where they lost, 4-2, in 10 innings to the Colorado Rockies. But pitching coach Dave Righetti wanted Lincecum to work under controlled conditions in a relaxed atmosphere, particularly after watching the 23-year-old labor through two innings (four runs, six hits) last Wednesday against San Diego.

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"He looked like a closer coming out of the bullpen the other day and tried to throw like one," Righetti said. "It's just a different atmosphere when you see them relax. They can make their pitches, make mistakes and try it again. They get so much out of it."

Concern about Lincecum's groin also prompted the Giants to spare him the journey to Tucson, a round trip that would have lasted at least four hours. Sitting on a bus for that long is no way to heal an injury. But Lincecum continued to maintain that his groin hasn't been an issue and praised the Giants' athletic training staff for their care.

"I've made a point of getting here early, doing the treatment and being real serious about it, because it's not something you want to play around with," Lincecum said.

Williams, by the way, looked svelte, contrasting with his appearance in his latter days as a Giant. He said he lost 30 pounds and now weighs 230.

"I wish I had done this a long time ago," said Williams, who also was trying to arouse interest from other teams during his Arizona visit.

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

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