Lincecum ready for arbitration hearing
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Tim Lincecum is prepared to hear some harsh criticism in an arbitration hearing with the San Francisco Giants – perhaps even delving into his offseason pot bust.
The two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is asking for a record $13 million, while the Giants offered $8 million when the sides exchanged numbers last month.
“The business side is what we’re scraping at right now,” Lincecum said Friday, appearing at AT&T Park ahead of Saturday’s FanFest. “Going to arbitration, everybody knows what can happen and the feelings that can get hurt. I’m just trying to keep an open mind. If anybody knows my flaws, I do. If they’re going to point them out and that has to happen, then whatever. I know I’ve got to get better. I don’t feel like my feelings are hurt.”
Lincecum is seeking the richest contract ever awarded in arbitration, surpassing the $10 million that Alfonso Soriano (2006) and Francisco Rodriguez (2008) got after losing cases and Ryan Howard received after winning in 2008.
Lincecum’s hearing is scheduled for this month in St. Petersburg, Fla. He plans to attend.
Two other top pitchers just received five-year contracts, with Detroit’s Justin Verlander getting $80 million and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez $78 million.
“At some point. something’s going to get figured out,” Lincecum said. “Either way, I try not to have ill feelings about anything. I just try to come out here and the whole purpose is to try to help the team win. It’s not about a grudge match. When it gets finalized, it will be good. I just try to take in what I can in the experience and not be too oblivious to everything but also not getting too involved, either. I let my agent do his job and I’ll just do mine.”
For Lincecum, that means throwing off a mound for the first time this offseason and completing a couple of bullpen sessions before reporting Feb. 17 to the team’s Scottsdale, Ariz., facility. After lunch Friday, he headed outside to play some light catch with fellow starter Barry Zito and closer Brian Wilson on a partly sunny, overcast Bay Area day.
Manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t expect his ace to be distracted by his contract dealings.
“He’s going to have to put it aside,” Bochy said. “Timmy, I really think he understands the process. This is a business. It has to be separated from what you do on the field. Tim realizes that. Whatever happens, what number, who wins, it cannot distract what you’re paid to do: play the game to the best of your ability. This is unprecedented with what Timmy’s done and the numbers that are out there. It’s created a lot of interest in the baseball world. Everybody’s curious to see how this thing shakes out. It’s a win-win. Either way, he’s going to be fine.”
It’s unclear whether the Giants will bring up Lincecum’s legal trouble.
There is language listed in the criteria for arbitration hearings dealing with “special qualities of leadership and public appeal” and the “existence of any physical or mental defects on the part of the player.” Lincecum figures it all will be fair game.
On Jan. 19, the same day salary numbers were exchanged, Lincecum agreed to pay $513 to resolve marijuana charges against him in Washington state.
“If they do (bring it up), the one thing I said is I would not let it happen again,” Lincecum said. “It’s part of my past. I’m going to move on. I feel like I’ve made a step forward from it. I’ve become a better person for it. I’ve got to stop making stupid decisions. It’s one of those things it’s time to grow up now.”
Lincecum has been prepped for how to handle the scenario if it does become part of the hearing. He said he’s read about what organizations have said to players in the past.
“I’m not going to try to take any ill regard to it at all – try to take it as constructive criticism I suppose,” he said.
Lincecum originally faced two misdemeanor charges of marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession stemming from a traffic stop on Oct. 30. The charges were reduced to a civil infraction.
Lincecum appeared in Clark County District Court before Judge Darvin Zimmerman, and Giants managing partner Bill Neukom was in court in a sign of support for Lincecum.
“I didn’t have any idea. I walked in and he was sitting there,” Lincecum said. “It was kind of a pleasant surprise. It showed the kind of support the Giants give their players. It’s great.”
He paid a speeding ticket separately.
Lincecum just recently received his second Cy Young Award, and both were in the trunk of his car for now. He plans to gift the first one to his father, Chris – the one responsible for teaching the pitcher his effective yet funky mechanics.
This winter has been calmer for Lincecum compared to a year ago following his first Cy Young Award and the round of public appearances afterward. This time, he spent time with his French bulldog, Cy, and playing video games.
“It felt like a typical chill offseason,” Lincecum said. “I don’t do a lot. I’m a homebody.”
Even his teammates are curious to see how his case is resolved.
“It will be exciting to see how that situation pans out,” starter Matt Cain said.