MLB: Lincecum says it’s just business
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
It was a February softball question to Tim Lincecum before reporters came with the hard stuff: Where does he keep his two Cy Young Awards?
“I have both of them in my car, actually,” said the Giants’ 25-year-old ace, his normally pallid cheeks blushing a bit.
No kidding. In the trunk, we hope?
“Nah, on the backseat,” he said. “It’s locked, though.”
Lincecum could use a different set of wheels in a few days. Whether he wins, loses or settles his arbitration case, he’ll need to back up the truck to haul the money away.
The real price of an arbitration hearing can be tougher to quantify, though. That’s because a team must point out a player’s shortcomings in the hopes of convincing an arbitrator to choose their salary figure. And there’s always a danger that the player will have a long memory when he reaches free agency.
But Lincecum denied speculation that he is upset at the Giants over the speed of negotiations, or would allow the process to turn into a “grudge match.”
“Going to arbitration, everybody knows what can happen and the feelings that can get hurt,” said Lincecum, dressed in black from ski cap to toe while meeting with reporters on the suite level at AT&T Park on the eve of the team’s FanFest on Friday.
“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.”
Interestingly, Lincecum said he would fly to St. Petersburg, Fla., to attend the arbitration hearing if the two sides cannot settle first. The hearing will be held sometime between Feb. 10-15, sources said.
But Lincecum said he isn’t obsessing over what he described as “the business side we’re scraping at,” only talking to agent Rick Thurman a couple times a week. He didn’t turn green when asked about the five-year, $80 million deal the Detroit Tigers gave to young ace Justin Verlander this week or the five-year, $78 million deal the Seattle Mariners gave to Felix Hernandez, saying he understood his case was unique.
“With the two Cy Youngs, it just throws a curveball in the mix,” said Lincecum, who incidentally, said he plans to start throwing more of them this season. “People were saying I could ask for pretty much anything. It’s new to everybody, not just me.”
However it turns out, Lincecum will receive a massive raise from the $650,000 he earned last season. The Giants filed for $8 million while Lincecum’s camp will seek $13 million. Either number would obliterate the record for a starting pitcher with similar service time attributes.
The Giants are prepared for any result, too. Club president Larry Baer said if Lincecum wins, the organization wouldn’t be forced to trade players or shave payroll in other areas.
“It would come off our bottom line,” Baer said.
There’s a chance the Giants could bring up Lincecum’s Oct. 30 bust for marijuana possession. As part of the arbitration process, teams are allowed to present any evidence of special leadership qualities or the existence of any physical or mental defects.
Lincecum said he didn’t know if the pot bust would be considered in bounds, but he reiterated his regret and said it gave him a wakeup call.
“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 .” .” . time to grow up now.”
Eventually, that might include cleaning out his car, too.