Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on Lincecum and Matt Cain

On September 28, 2009 there was an article by the Sporting News on Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, entitled I Just Love Watching Him Pitch.

After learning that Lincecum won his second Cy Young in-a-row, and was the first to do so during his first 2 complete seasons as a major leaguer, the big focus now is if the San Francisco Giants will sign Tim Lincecum before his case reaches arbitration.

Here are some snipets of that article that delve into the personalities of both Lincecum and Matt Cain.

The Franchise and The Freak. Big Daddy and Big Sugar. Does anybody actually call you these things?
Lincecum: I hear them all the time. I get them from fans every place we go. ( Former Giants reliever) Steve Kline tagged me with the Franchise or French Fries, whatever you want to call it. It's just funny names. You just roll with it.

Cain: I've had the Big Daddy one ever since my high school coach gave it to me. The Big Sugar one, I'm not too fond of; it makes me feel like I'm just eating too much candy. I don't know if I approve of that one.

On a friendship level, what about the other guy's personality appeals to you most?
Lincecum: I think it's both our competitiveness. That's why we mesh well. It's taken, like, a couple years for us to get closer, though. Our first year was a little different, but the last couple years we've become pretty good friends and we've gotten closer and just gotten to know each other. We play catch together all the time. Before, it was almost like a competition between us, like we didn't even know each other, like we were on different teams. But now it's just fun stuff, giving each other a hard time just like two good guys will do.

Cain: We come from kind of total opposite upbringings, and baseball definitely connects us in a lot of ways. He's definitely open-minded about things. I'm open-minded about things. We started to share a lot more things in common than we probably felt we would have at first.

Out of high school, Matt was drafted in the first round. Tim was drafted in the 48th round. At that point, what were your personal expectations about having big league careers?
Cain: I think mine might have been different than his coming out of high school. I got drafted in the first round , so they kind of put that "He's going to try to be the guy" tag on me. I thought, 'All right, I'm going to have to get better and better as fast as possible to get to the big leagues real quick.' Whereas Timmy came out his junior and senior years in college. (After his junior season at Washington, in 2006, Lincecum was selected 10th overall by the Giants-his third time going through the draft.)

Lincecum: He just had more of a plan. College prepares us in a different fashion than his preparation, which was in the minors. You take what you can from that. Cain, you can just look at this guy-ever since the first day I met him, he was that old young guy, just beyond his years. He was a grown man before most other guys.

What roles have your physical sizes played in your athletic lives?
Lincecum: I've always dealt with the lack-of-size issue. Going into college, I was like 135 pounds. That's pretty small for anybody. I met girls in their freshman year that were bigger than me.
Cain: (Laughing) That's awesome.

On your best day, is one of you a more dominant pitcher than the other?
Lincecum: I just love watching him pitch. Cain's that guy who doesn't give up any hits. You're looking at the board, your like, "They've only got two hits?" He just sneaky-dominates you. It's awesome to watch.

Cain: For me, it's the same way. Suddenly, it's the sixth inning and Timmy has punched out eight guys already. He does it sneaky, too. I think we do different things different . He's definitely going to be a guy who strikes out guys no matter what, where I probably won't strike out as many guys. I think I could, but I don't think it's effective for me. I can't effectively strike out that many guys.

A lack of run support has been an issue on this team. Matt has had tougher luck in that regard than perhaps anyone in baseball the past couple of years. How have you dealt with that?

Lincecum: Just watching him (Matt Cain) the last couple years, the way he battles through the run support issues that he's had to deal with... he deals with it better than anybody. You can get so frustrated, take it badly, get (ticked) off, but he just takes the ball and doesn't worry about that. He's going to pitch his game. Whether he wins or loses by one run, Cain just lets it go. I've learned from that.

Cain: It's got to be one of those situations that makes you better. I would get in situations where we were winning, 2-1 or whatever, and I'd think about it too much and give up a couple runs. Then I'd watch Timmy out there: he'd be winning, 2-0, getting the same runs but focusing more in some situations; he'd keep it 2-0. That's what I've tried to get better at this year.

Lincecum: I find it's good to somehow have that pressure on you. It's good to pitch in close games. It brings out a different side of you.

What have you learned from having Randy Johnson as a teammate? And is Jonathan Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in July, as talented as you guys are?

Cain: I think Sanchez is what R.J. has helped with most, actually, in the past couple months. We know Sanchez is obviously very talented, but he's got his games where he goes out and deals and his games where he struggles. It's about focus. It comes at different times for different guys, but we know he has the ability to focus because there's no way you don't stay focused the whole time when you throw a no-hitter-there's no room to let down.

Lincecum: Just sitting down and talking to R.J. when were were at spring training, he said, "You never become content; you keep getting better." He said, "Look at the four Cy Youngs I won in a row (1999-2002) it wasn't like they got worse-they got better through the last one."

Who are your favorite pitchers, now and ever?

Lincecum: Sandy Koufax was definitely one of them. Nolan Ryan. Man, I just dig strikeouts.

Cain: I liked watching (Greg) Maddux and (John) Smoltz. Two different guys. Smoltz, when I was young, he was just a "Here it comes" fastball, slider, split guy. Maddux moved the ball and did different things. Those guys working together, I'll bet they helped each other a ton. It's kind of like how I feel I can try to do different things with the ball now from watching Timmy.

You'll both be 25 at the end of this season (2009). How important is it for you to be a 1-2 punch for a long time?

Lincecum: It's definitely important. Matty is going to be a workhorse for this organization for as long as he can be. I hope to do the same thing.

Cain: We both love being in the organization and hope that we can stay together and really be a Big Three with (Barry) Zito or even a Big Four with Sanchez.

It's up to the Giant's front office to see that this happens. That is, of course, if the San Diego Padres want Sanchez as part of a trade for Adrian Gonzalez. They may want Madison Bumgarner as well. Tough call.

We shall see what happens in the off-season. I was listen to my walkman and what sounded like Carlos Santana on guitar had the lyrics: Pain never makes me cry, but happiness does.
This must be the on-going sentiment for major league baseball's general managers and their associates.

(thanks to the Sporting News for their 9/28/09 article on Lincecum and Cain)

Kevin J. Marquez