HOUSTON -- A spry and upbeat Tim Lincecum felt certain Wednesday that he'll be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday in Atlanta, despite the bone bruise he sustained on his right knee. Giants manager Bruce Bochy concurred, saying he's "99 percent" sure that Lincecum will be fit enough to face the Braves after a Brad Ausmus line drive struck him on the side of his knee Tuesday. Taking his usual turn would allow Lincecum (12-3, 2.67 ERA) to remain a viable candidate for the National League Cy Young Award and continue to boost his NL-high strikeout total of 182.
Lincecum, who strode quickly and smoothly between his dressing stall and the training room in the Giants' clubhouse, plans to maintain as much of his typical between-starts routine as possible. That includes throwing off a bullpen mound -- possibly Thursday, but perhaps Friday, depending on his condition. Lincecum will be carefully watched as he throws to make sure he doesn't alter his delivery, which often leads to significant arm injuries in pitchers. Lincecum's leg was only slightly reddened and swollen in the spot where the ball hit him. He also reported mild stiffness, but he has spent most of his waking hours since Tuesday night applying ice to the area. Lincecum spent part of Wednesday riding a stationary bicycle to keep his leg loose. Although Lincecum initially appeared to be in considerable pain after Ausmus' drive hit him, he reported that the ball struck a nerve that temporarily numbed his leg, akin to absorbing a blow to the funny bone. Lincecum said that when he tried to stand, "it was like stepping on a non-existent leg." Asked if he felt lucky, Lincecum said, "Things could have happened worse. ... It could have hit better places, it could have hit worse places. I think I fared pretty well." With unintentionally hilarious effect, the ultra-skinny Lincecum added, "It would have been nice if it would have hit a meatier spot," which would have allowed him to continue pitching beyond the 4 1/3 innings he worked. Bochy didn't take Lincecum's apparent good health for granted. "It's a pretty big relief," Bochy said. "He's having such a big year. We'd hate to see any kind of setback with him. We know what he means to us. He's our best pitcher and we don't want to lose him."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.