SURPRISE, Ariz. – When Tim Lincecum shows up to spring training Wednesday morning, his contract finally official, the jersey in his locker will look different, and not just because of the Texas Rangers insignia it bears. Across the back, under his last name, will not be the No. 55 he has worn for a decade.
“I plan on wearing 44 this year in honor of my brother,” Lincecum said Tuesday. “That was his number.”
Sean Lincecum, 37 – “an idol of mine,” Tim said – died Feb. 22 after years of personal struggles. The sadness remains fresh for Lincecum, who will join the Rangers and once again try to reinvent himself, this time as a relief pitcher. And at 33, years removed from his last effective season, nearly a decade since his back-to-back Cy Young Awards, Lincecum worked himself into the sort of shape that allowed him to defy convention, subvert dogma about undersized pitchers and carve a unique place in baseball history.
All of it started with his father, Chris, an iconoclast who believed better pitchers could be built. He first tried with Sean, whose body type never could do what Tim’s lithe, flexible frame eventually would.
“If I was 2.0,” Lincecum said, “he was the 1.0.”
Now, following intensive training with Driveline Baseball, the pitching think tank near Lincecum’s Seattle home, he is ready to unleash Version 3.0 – or perhaps 4.0 or 5.0. There was the San Francisco Giants edition of Lincecum minus the glorious high-90s fastball with which he regularly blew away hitters, and then the Los Angeles Angels rendering that lasted nine miserable starts before being designated for assignment.
This Lincecum showed up to Driveline sporting a dad bod and unsure he would play baseball again after sitting out the 2017 season. Eight months of work melted the fat away, and when Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino
It felt like a Bigfoot sighting. All these years later, the notion of Lincecum connotes good times. The fastball, the strikeouts, the World Series rings, the hair, the
At Driveline, he found pieces of that old self, particularly the part that craves greatness. He’s a different person at a different point in his life. He nonetheless believes some of the same things that made him so good remain.
“I feel like it would be tough to give up the game,” Lincecum said,“when I’ve still got the ability to play it.”</p>