Sports

Lincecum glad to be a Giant

It's rare for a Brian Sabean trade proposal to become public knowledge, let alone get dissected and debated in the media for more than a week.

But that's what happened in December, when the Giants' general manager agonized over an offer that would have sent Tim Lincecum to the Toronto Blue Jays for All-Star outfielder Alex Rios.

Seemingly all of San Francisco implored Sabean to back away from the table -- and Lincecum is ecstatic he doesn't have to apply for a Canadian work visa.

"The most ideal outcome was to stay with the Giants," said Lincecum. "I'm just getting started here. I've started to form relationships with the people in this organization, the trainers and coaches. It would be awkward to jump a train and go across the border to Canada.

"I'm sitting here now as a Giant, so I'm definitely happy about that."

Lincecum wasn't too happy during that week in December. He understood that trades are part of being a professional baseball player, but the uncertainty was maddening.

"My agent said he'd keep me informed and try to relax," Lincecum said. "I thought, 'Yeah, good luck with that.' I went through the process, wondering what it would be like to play in Toronto. I beat myself up stressing over it, till I got to the point I said, 'No, I can't keep doing this. I have zero say in what happens.' "

Sabean hasn't spoken to Lincecum about the trade discussions, saying the 23-year-old pitcher should feel reassured that other clubs prized him so highly. The Giants, obviously, are among them because the deal wasn't struck.

"And it was for a damn good player," Sabean said.

Lincecum spent most of the winter in Seattle. He didn't hear the strenuous objections the trade proposal generated in San Francisco, but he was heartened to learn that fans had connected with him so strongly after just one season.

"It is very reassuring to have in the back of your mind," he said. "To hear so many fans wanted me to stay, that motivates me.

"When it comes to free agency or signing somewhere, something like that could make a difference."

Lincecum is five years from free agency, but clubs are locking up young stars earlier than ever. National League Rookie of the Year Troy Tulowitzki, a former Modesto Nuts shortstop, just signed a six-year contract with Colorado. Lincecum said he expects to sign a one-year contract for this season, with the possibility of negotiating a multiyear deal after that.

Lincecum expects to be a better pitcher this year now that he has adjusted to big-league life. He said he plans to throw his slider more often this spring with the hopes of establishing it along with his hard fastball, lollipop curve and changeup.

"I plan to be a four-pitch starter," he said. "I'd love for (the slider) to be a pitch I can throw for strikes, but it's looking like a strikeout pitch. The more I throw it, the more comfortable it feels."

As for those trade rumors, Sabean said the industry knows where the Giants stand on their two prized young pitchers, Lincecum and 23-year-old Matt Cain.

"They come up rarely now, very rarely," Sabean said.

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