Commentary

Tim Lincecum's ins and outs of training

Supersize him: Giants ace has a healthy appetite for burgers, fries and shakes

Updated: March 19, 2011, 4:42 PM ET
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young award in each of his first two full seasons, pitched a two-hit, 14-strikeout shutout in his first postseason start and beat Cliff Lee twice in last year's World Series, including the Game 5 victory that clinched the first world championship since the Giants moved to San Francisco more than a half century ago.

But his most extraordinary feat is this: Lincecum says his typical order at In-N-Out Burger is three double-doubles, two orders of fries and a chocolate-strawberry milkshake. For those of you unfamiliar with the California fast-food chain, that is a cholesterol bomb that would stop Oprah, Jonah Hill and Adam Richman dead in their tracks. The calorie count for the Full Lincecum is 3,100, about 600 more than the normal daily amount for the average male. And, Lincecum said, "That's just one meal.''

Of course, Lincecum keeps the total calories down by scrupulously avoiding such unhealthy items as lettuce and tomatoes.

The amazing thing is he remains as thin as a plasma screen TV. He's so trim that he actually steps on the scale with his clothes on to increase his weight.

In-N-Out Burgers Fries & ShakeCourtesy of Jim CapleThe Full Lincecum: three double-doubles, two orders of fries … and a milkshake.

"For me it's always been harder to put on weight than to take it off,'' Lincecum said. "It can drop easily for me because my metabolism is through the roof. I sweat a whole s---load. Given that, I try to fight it by eating often and eating a lot when I can until I'm full. And even then, just trying to stuff it in.''

Don't you just hate him?

Meanwhile, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval probably gains weight just watching Lincecum eat. "I don't it throw it in his face,'' Lincecum said. "That would be a d---head move.''

Thanks to this diet of champions (plus protein shakes and recovery drinks), Lincecum, charitably listed as 5-foot-11, has bulked up to 168 pounds (the pig!) this spring. It's part of a goal to stay strong all season.

Squeezed into another otherwise superb season, Lincecum had by far the worst month of his career in August when he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA amid whispers that he had gotten out of shape. (Gasp! He might have gained an entire pound!) But he shut up all the critics by bouncing back quickly with a stellar September (5-1, 1.94 ERA) and followed that with a fantastic postseason: 4-1 and a 2.43 ERA, including those two World Series victories.

One concern is how throwing those extra 37 high-pressure innings in the postseason -- and 249.1 total for the year -- will affect what is still a relatively young arm (Lincecum is 26) and his famed unusual mechanics. "I don't feel it,'' he said of the extra workload. "If I keep giving 100 percent to my workouts off the field, I shouldn't have a problem.''

We'll see as the season goes on but he's looking good so far this spring. On a hot, mid-80s afternoon, Lincecum pitched 5 1/3 solid innings Wednesday against what might be close to the White Sox's Opening Day lineup. He allowed one run, three hits, walked three and struck out seven. "Some people say I can't pitch in heat but I maintained pretty well out there.''

[+] EnlargeTim Lincecum
AP Photo/Eric RisbergYeah, Tim Lincecum would like fries with that. And make it a double order, please.

His ERA is 2.55 and batters are hitting .227 against him with 21 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings this spring. Both he and manager Bruce Bochy say he's ahead of where he was in past springs.

"I feel better. I feel stronger,'' Lincecum said. "I have a better idea about my body and know what I need to do and knew I had three months to get in shape in the offseason. It presses you to come out and repeat and do what you did the year prior and give the team the chance to be in that position again.

"I feel like I worked on my legs a lot more this year so coming into spring and getting through it has been a lot easier for me.''

The day after a start, Lincecum says he runs up stairs at the stadium for 30-35 minutes and works hard on his upper body (he is impressively toned). He runs distance sprints the other days, decreasing them as he nears his next start. Which, apparently, allows you to eat three Double-Doubles at one sitting without needing to buy new pants afterward.

And he still never ices his arm after a start. "I never got into that. I'd rather get all those lactic acids out the natural way. I don't want them freezing up there because of the ice.''

Despite playing at the White Sox ballpark, Lincecum received several standing ovations from the crowd Wednesday. The Giants always had a strong following for their spring home games in Scottsdale but after last year's World Series victory, their fans are filling stadiums throughout the Cactus League.

"I still don't know how to respond to it,'' Lincecum said of the ovations. "I don't whether to tip my cap or wave at some fans and not wave at others. I still appreciate it all the same.''

By the way, suitably inspired, I attempted The Full Lincecum at a local In-N-Out. I stopped midway through Burger 2 when I started feeling as bloated as Carlos Silva. I caught a second wind after a few minutes and finished up Burger 2, took another break and then forced down Burger 3. I didn't finish the shake, however, and didn't make a dent in the fries.

Nor will I strike out 200 batters, win 18 games or receive a Cy Young award.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go to the bathroom.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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Senior Writer, ESPN.com