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Lincecum hits mound for start of camp

Lincecum hits mound for start of camp

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum hinted before the Giants' opening workout for pitchers and catchers on Thursday that he would not take his scheduled turn to throw off a bullpen mound.

But he couldn't help himself.

Lincecum, the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner who loves his job, stepped onto a mound and flung about 20 pitches. But, since it was his first trip to the mound since last season ended, he clearly reined in his effort.

"My body feels fine. I'm athletic enough to the point where I know that my body will adapt," Lincecum said, explaining why he changed his mind. "That whole mound thing is like second nature. It'll come in a few throws, and I felt like it got better my last few throws."

It should be noted that Giants fans have no cause for alarm.

Lincecum would have preferred to tone his valuable right arm with one or two bullpen sessions before reporting here. Though he has stayed limber by playing catch and long toss, his recent itinerary prevented him from strengthening his arm further by working off a mound.

Last Thursday, Lincecum flew from San Francisco to St. Petersburg, Fla., for his scheduled salary arbitration hearing Friday. That was canceled when Lincecum and the Giants agreed to a two-year, $23 million contract. Lincecum then returned to the Bay Area to undergo his physical examination before traveling to Spring Training.

"I've kind of been bouncing around a lot and never been able to get settled down yet," Lincecum said before the workout. "But it's good to get my feet back under me now, get with the guys and kick it off."

By no means did Lincecum regard his inactivity as a setback.

"It'll be about getting ready for the season, not about getting ready for Spring Training," Lincecum said, "which is always the case."

That didn't stop Lincecum from testing himself Thursday. After making a few warmup throws from about 50 feet to non-roster catcher Johnny Monell, Lincecum scraped at the dirt at the base of the rubber with his right foot to give himself a foothold, then procrastinated a bit by tying his shoes. Finally the time to throw came.

Lincecum casually flung about 12 pitches, repeating his delivery in controlled fashion. Then he added a dash of intensity. He mixed in a couple of curveballs and his head jerked ever so slightly with the increased effort. Once Lincecum finished throwing, he convened with Monell halfway between the mound and home plate and they shook hands, as is customary in Spring Training bullpen sessions. "Nice to meet you, man," a beaming Lincecum told Monell.

Free from concern over the ace of their pitching staff, the Giants enthusiastically resumed the typical Spring Training regimen of stretching, playing catch and reviewing fundamentals. The work was routine, but it didn't seem routine.

"We're amped up," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Catcher Bengie Molina, who surprised virtually everyone by returning to the Giants, sensed the thrill hours before he headed for the ballpark.

"I was really excited getting out of bed, and this is my 11th or 12th Spring Training," Molina said. "It was like the first day of school. I had my [equipment] bag packed last night, ready to go."

Though the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Tuesday, position players overcoming injuries often are allowed to join drills early. One Giant early bird was infielder Emmanuel Burriss, who has recovered from a broken left foot. He keenly felt the adrenaline rush.

"I'm not quite sure because it's Spring Training or because of the fact that I haven't played since July, but being able to participate is huge," Burriss said.

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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