SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum could be spending his last night in the Giants dugout Tuesday.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner is headed back to Arizona on Wednesday morning to continue rehab work on his surgically repaired left hip; before he goes, he said he hopes he can acknowledge the Giants fans who have adored him for the past nine years.
Lincecum expressed an openness to re-signing with the Giants but made no promises, saying he has to be “selfish” and focus on the lengthy rehab process following left hip surgery.
For now, he’ll allow himself to marinate in a bit of nostalgia.
He stood on crutches outside the Giants clubhouse Tuesday and addressed reporters for the first time since the Sept. 3 procedure performed by Dr. Mark Philippon to shave down an impingement and repair the labrum – a surgery designed to allow the joint to operate smoothly again.
Here’s a mostly full transcript of the 10-minute interview:
Q: How is the rehab and recovery going so far?
A: Everything is on track. It’s obviously tedious but that’s what rehab is about. It’s a good routine I got going, and people are taking care of me. Philippon’s team is exceptional and I feel I’m in really good hands. They’re forward thinkers. They have a good idea of where I’m headed and where I need to go, and they’ve done these things a lot and obviously they are specialists in this field so that takes a lot of stress out of my mind. I just try to listen to what they say and do it and hopefully get me on track to where I need to be. It’s a long process.
Q: When can you begin walking without crutches?
A; I can start full weight bearing for short distances in four days or so. I’m working towards that. The last two days were my first days of walking. Before that it was a lot of biking and water therapy four days a week and two workouts three days a week. So it’s pretty busy but I like it and it makes my body feel good. Obviously it’s a big relief off my mind.
Q: You’re used to sliding down banisters and leaping over couches. This has to be very restrictive for you.
A: Yeah, definitely, and that’s what is different about the situation. It wasn’t an injury I caused. It was more a structural issue I had going on and that kind of came out as a bigger issue just because I’ve been pitching on it so long. I’ve been trying to work ahead and think about the future, but be in the moment at the same time. So being here with the team right now is pretty special for me, being with the guys and it’s coming down to the wire. It’s good to see these guys and see them smile and I get to smile too.
Q: When will you be fully recovered?
A: Right now I’m not sure exactly. I know the window I was given was five to six months and I’m pretty confident I’ll be ready for spring training. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I think we’re just looking to get healthier day by day.
Q: You know this team, these coaches, the trainers and the facilities. Is that an advantage to re-signing, and is your preference to re-sign with the Giants?
A: Yeah, I mean, that’d be really nice obviously, if it comes to that. But right now I’m kind of worried about myself a little bit. It sounds a little selfish but it’s the first time I’ve had to deal with a major injury so I’m trying to get my mind around that.
Q: Do you have plans to throw for teams? Will there be time for that?
A: Right now I don’t know yet. I can’t say. I know exactly what you’re saying but I don’t know. I’m trying to focus on what I need to do on an everyday basis and that’s kind of overwhelming for me at times. Right now I’m trying to wrap my head around this whole rehab world and obviously, being away from the team is tough. So that’s anther tied-in thing. With the offseason I’ll be able to focus a little bit more and think about the future and hopefully I’ll have a better answer for you then.
Q: It might be awkward because we don’t know if this is goodbye. But you know how much you mean to fans here. What would you like this last week to be like? Do you hope to have a chance to acknowledge the fans here?
A: I hope something happens. Obviously I would like to show my appreciation one way or another just because they’ve been with me day on and day out. As fans, they don’t get paid to be here. It’s on the other side. So it’s completely selfless and to be able to give of yourself in that way, as a fan of sports, it’s pretty special and I can definitely relate to it.
Q: Are you confident you’ll be able to regain velocity and this procedure will make you an effective pitcher again?
A: Definitely. That’s what made me lean more towards Philippon in the first place because they seem so confident. The way he spoke, it was like he knew where I would be later, as opposed to a question mark. So that gave me a lot of confidence to go forward with them. I see myself getting back on track given the program that I’m under.
Q: It’s a big commitment to have this surgery and go through a half-year of rehab. Do you have an idea about what path your career might take, starting or relieving?
A: I think I’ll have an idea about that when I see where I’m at when I start throwing. When I can start building my stamina and endurance as a pitcher, we’ll see where that goes. But early on, as I start throwing, I’ll have to work on my endurance more than I have in past (offseasons) just because I’ll have had so much time off. So it’ll be a good test for me, I’m really happy to take it on. But I don’t necessarily have an answer for what my role might be.
Q: When will you be cleared to start throwing?
A: I don’t really have a window for that exactly.
Q: How long are you here?
A: I actually take off tomorrow, back to Phoenix. I’ll be over there for almost all offseason except for probably the holidays.
Q: You started riding a bike right away?
A: The first day of the surgery, I’ve got to get on a bike just to start mobilizing the joint. It was nice to do something cooped up in that little room.
Q: You’re leaving tomorrow? You don’t have much more time here, then.
A: Right now I’m into the moment here at the field and being around the guys. Obviously it’s not going to happen again for a while, and I’m going to try and take it in as much as I can and hopefully stay in contact with these guys, too.