Big Unit in simulation game Monday also

Updated: September 13, 2009, 1:26 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum threw a successful bullpen session Saturday and could return to the mound as soon as Monday after missing his last start with back trouble.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he would announce Sunday whether Lincecum will pitch Monday in the opener of a key series with the NL wild card-leading Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, who was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night because of spasms and inflammation in his lower back, said Friday he feels "normal" again.

Lincecum
Lincecum

"Timmy's side went perfect," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "He threw strikes."

Bochy also spoke to Lincecum afterward and received a good report, though the Giants will want to make sure Lincecum feels fine Sunday before naming him the starter for Monday.

Backup catcher Eli Whiteside thought Lincecum looked like his same hard-throwing self.

"Just like any other bullpen session he's thrown in the past," Whiteside said. "He looked good to me."

Injured 300-game winner Randy Johnson, hoping to return from a shoulder injury to pitch out of the bullpen before season's end, will throw a simulated game Monday and then be re-evaluated. It will be his first time pitching to live hitters in more than two months.

"I am back here to help in whatever capacity," Johnson said upon returning to the Bay Area after rehabilitating in Arizona.

The 45-year-old Big Unit is on the 60-day disabled list and has been sidelined since July 6 with a strained left shoulder. He acknowledged pitching more than five innings and being effective as a starter would be tough at this stage.

Johnson is 8-6 this season and earned his 300th career victory in June. Starting again this year is "doubtful," Bochy said.

"We'll have a better idea after he throws," Bochy said. "If he comes out of that well, there's a possibility he can help us out of the bullpen."

This is the 10th DL stint of his 22-year big league career. He has had four knee operations and three back surgeries and worked his way back.

Johnson felt something in his arm on a swing during his start against Houston on July 5 but initially tried to pitch through it. He then left the game after committing a throwing error in the top of the fourth.

Johnson has acknowledged this could be his final season, but reiterated Saturday he will wait until after the season to make a decision about his future.

"I don't know what I've got," he said of how his body will hold up pitching again.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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