SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — This is the key fact. Tim Hudson's locker is located between Tim Lincecum's locker and Matt Cain's. Right in the middle. Forget Cain for now. His career is in better shape than Lincecum's — although, it's not that much better.
Think of the Tims being next to each other, Lincecum and Hudson. And while you think about that, visualize this scene.
The other day, Hudson walked across the Giants' clubhouse to the locker of catcher Buster Posey. Hudson's locker is against a wall. They call it Pitcher's Row — all the pitchers are over there. But Posey's locker is in the middle of the room. Think of magnetic north. Think of where everyone must go sooner or later.
So, Hudson went to Posey. Not the other way around. They discussed pitching. Serious talk. Hudson showed Posey his two-seamer and his four-seamer. Hudson was not holding a ball. He was demonstrating finger position, wanted his catcher to see and understand his method. Posey studied Hudson's fingers, studied them as seriously as someone taking apart the rhyme scheme of a sonnet.
Posey asked what Hudson likes to throw on the first pitch of an at-bat. They discussed first pitches. More finger positioning. More looking. They discussed what pitch Hudson uses to put people away.
This was a business meeting between two professionals, a getting-to-know-you meeting. It was necessary because Hudson and Posey will work together for many months and they need to speak the same language, use the same grammar, understand the language of finger position. And Hudson made sure all that was happening.
Back to locker placement. If you were a lazy thinker, a thinker of clichés, you would say Hudson is next to Lincecum to “mentor” Lincecum. You get an image of the Tims sitting in a seminar room at Stanford, and Hudson leading a Socratic discussion.
Lincecum twice won the Cy Young Award. It would be pitiful for him to play pupil. I don't believe ballplayers mentor in the way we imagine — in the way we were mentored in school. Ballplayers learn by watching and listening and practicing. Lincecum needs to watch Hudson. Lincecum needs to listen when Hudson speaks to anyone.