Lowell Cohn: Tim Lincecum less a gamble if he adjusts to new reality

  • FILE - In this May 24, 2013, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum works against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco. Lincecum is staying put with the Giants just as he hoped, reaching agreement Tuesday, OCt. 22, 2013, on a $35 million, two-year contract through the 2015 season. The deal is pending a physical, which hadn't been set. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

"That's the only thing we're going to go by. He can do it. Lots of right-handers can't. Lefties can pull it off. They can (Frank) Tanana it -#8212; go from one style of pitching to the other. I don't know why. It's never been explained. Very tough for right-handers to change speeds, to go from being power pitchers. You can count them on one hand.

"But he's capable of doing it. He's that good an athlete. When it got away from him was when he couldn't control it (his pitches). We all saw it. It was right before everybody's eyes. He couldn't get the ball where he wanted. It's a lot easier for hitters to lay off everything. It's the classic pitching problem.

"He wanted to do something about it. He started studying. He always went over the hitters before the game, but nothing like this. He sat down and ingrained it in his head. It's not easy to do that in front of people watching you and asking, 'Why can't you be like '08?' You shouldn't have to live like that. But that's the cross you bear for being damn good at one point.

"You'd like everybody to have a perfect career. If you look at Tom Seaver's baseball card, the back of his card, Jim Palmer's, Ferguson Jenkins', they had imperfect seasons. They had to change their style.

"He knew swings, always knew that. He knew how to change speeds from the beginning. Once he got a power changeup, that made everything else better. His fastball was always good because it either ran away from a lefty or it was climbing in on a righty. But when you're only at 90 (mph) that same pitch doesn't have the same effect. It's, in a way, nice to hit.

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