Spring training notes: Freak ready to go now

timlinc.jpg

The Associated Press

When MoreSplashHits saw the first images of Tim Lincecum working out at spring training, I thought “Hey! The Freak cut his hair.”

Well, the image is an optical illusion of sorts. Lincecum has pulled his hair back into a neat ponytail. And in the above image, you can’t see the ponytail. So Lincecum of 2011 looks a little bit like Lincecum of 2007.

But what’s more important than the Freak’s hair — all right maybe AS important — is Lincecum’s commitment.

Last season, the Freak hit a rough patch in August, losing five straight starts with an ERA approaching 8.00 over those starts. Giants management called Lincecum to task regarding the pitcher’s conditioning and regimen between starts.

Lincecum got the message, rededicated himself to have a solid September, then led the Giants to their first World Series title in 56 years.

Apparently, Lincecum carried his commitment through the offseason. Everyone from Buster Posey to Bruce Bochy remarked how Lincecum looked like he was ready to start the season Tuesday.

“I don’t ever want to go through that again, whether it’s people doubting my workouts or my work ethic,” Lincecum told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. “I want to come in ready to pitch at a high level and not make any excuses.”

Rotation order one-fifth set

We learned Tuesday that Lincecum will be the Giants’ opening day starter on March 31 in Los Angeles. No shocker there.

But after that, Bochy was not willing to commit.

One scenario would involve pitching Matt Cain behind Lincecum, which would leave three left-handers in a row.

Bochy said he’d be OK with that because with off days the three lefties would rarely face the same team in the same series. It’s a nice theory, but in reality the first series in which all three lefties would face the same team would come on April 15-17 in Arizona. This is assuming all five pitcher pitch in turn from opening day.

The Mercury News reported that Lincecum would be line to pitch the season opener and the home opener on April 8. But that’s not true. They must have overlooked the fact that the season opens March 31, not April 1. And that the home opener is the seventh game of the season, not the sixth.

Kent coming to camp

The Giants announced that Jeff Kent has been invited to spring training to work as a special instructor. Kent spent six seasons with the Giants, winning the 2000 NL MVP award.

Kent left the Giants after the 2002 season for two seasons in Houston, and then finished his career with four seasons with the Dodgers.

Kent is expected to work with a variety of players, but it’s thought the he’ll work with second baseman Charlie Culberson as well as work with Buster Posey on being a cleanup hitter.

We can only hope he doesn’t offer Giants players tips on the best Phoenix-area locations on where to “wash your truck.”

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