According to Jon Heyman, Tim Lincecum has already undergone season-ending hip surgery. Bobby Evans confirmed on KNBR that Lincecum's season was done, even if he was a little less clear about the surgery. This wasn't entirely unexpected. This isn't going to affect the Giants' chances for the 2015 season. It's still a mighty fine reason to mope.
The surgery doesn't guarantee that Lincecum is gone, of course. He isn't likely to get a guaranteed contract before next season, not unless he gets a very, very modest one-year deal. There will be no bidding war, only spring training invites. The last four years have been dreadful, and now there's an ominous, unusual injury hanging over him and his chances for a renaissance. Teams will consider taking a flyer on him, though, and I would expect the Giants to be one of those teams.
There's still a sense of finality with the injury. It never happened for Lincecum. Scott Kazmir shot a grappling hook from the bottom of his career, and he went from the Sugar Land Skeeters to frontline starter again. Travis Ishikawa literally won the pennant, even though it was a surprise he was on a major league roster in the first place. Lincecum never pitched well again, and now he's battling a degenerative condition in an attempt to get back.
Lincecum's tally with the Giants if he doesn't come back: four All-Star seasons, two Cy Youngs, one championship that he was a huge part of, one championship that he was a substantial part of, and one championship where he provided moral support. It's one of the best careers in Giants history.
But! That's premature. It's a long offseason and an injury with unknown effects. And, if you haven't snorted enough dream dust over the last five seasons, don't forget this passage from Heyman a couple days ago.
Nonetheless, doctors are said to have told Lincecum that he could easily be ready for next spring training if he had the surgery, and they've further suggested that he should be able to return to form. They also are said to believe that his steep velocity decline is related to his current hip woes.
That might almost make it likely that he comes back. No team does "So, you're saying there's a chance?" better than the Giants, especially when it comes to their most beloved players.
If and when Lincecum goes somewhere else, there will be a Tim Lincecum Week, where we can laugh and smile and cry and swap stories. Until then, all we know is there won't be a sentimental start waiting for him at the end of September. The last time he was on the field in a Giants uniform, he was hit by a baseball.
The 2015 Giants: Stop hitting us with baseballs, please
A final start, with the crowd screaming itself hoarse as he left the mound, would have been magical. If AT&T Park can send Barry Zito off with love, just imagine what it would have been like for Lincecum. It's not going to happen. That's the worst part.
Until next season, because I'm an irrational fanboy, I'm going to read and re-read that passage from Heyman again. Should be able to return to form. Should be able to return to form. Should be able to return to form.
Can you even imagine? It's worth trying to imagine, at least. It's not like there's anything else happy going on for the Giants at the moment. A little daydream here wouldn't hurt.