SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the Giants went through a second day of live batting practice, several coaches hit grounders to a rotating group of position players. Next time around, the infielders might as well just line up behind Tim Hudson.

Facing hitters for the first time since suffering a gruesome ankle injury in July, Hudson induced a steady stream of ground balls. But the surprise Friday wasn't that Hudson looked so sharp; after all, he is one of his generation's preeminent ground-ball pitchers.

The surprise was that Tim Lincecum, on an adjacent field, spent just as much time pounding the bottom of the strike zone as Hudson.

Giants pitchers Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum throw during spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Giants pitchers Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum throw during spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group; Gregory Bull/AP Photo)

Lincecum said his early conversations with Hudson have centered on the importance of keeping the ball down, something Lincecum has struggled with at times the past two seasons.

"When I take a look back at years where I've scuffled or the last couple of years where it has been a pretty bad run, I look at guys like (Hudson) who have had success even in later years and look at how they did that," Lincecum said. "His was just more about sticking to the bottom of the zone and relying on movement, taking away the stress of 'can I get guys out up in the zone' and 'is my stuff going to be there.'

"I've been more awry than not the last couple of years. To be able to just come in and have him say something like that, it eliminated any would-be stress."

If the Giants are stressing about their two Tims, one coming off surgery and the other off two down years, they're not showing it. Manager Bruce Bochy took the short drive to the minor league facility to watch the prospects throw, skipping the first live BP sessions thrown by his veteran right-handers.

Bochy said he would talk to the coaches who stayed at Scottsdale Stadium, but he likely won't need to check in with trainer Dave Groeschner. Hudson felt fine after facing hitters for the first time since Eric Young Jr. stepped on his ankle on a close play at first base July 24.

"So far, so good," Hudson said. "I managed to find my way back to the mound. I didn't get lost."

Once there, Hudson fed Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Hector Sanchez a steady stream of fastballs and breaking balls at the knees. He looked game ready and said he still anticipates being part of the rotation when the Cactus League season begins next week.

"I'm getting there," the 38-year-old said. "I'm a little further behind (than usual), just from a body standpoint. But I've never been this old, either."

A year ago, 56 percent of the balls put in play against Hudson stayed on the ground, the sixth-highest rate among National League pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. Lincecum (45 percent) ranked 42nd but said he's hoping to trend upward, limiting pitch counts and getting easier outs by staying on the lower half of the strike zone.

Gregor Blanco, who faced Lincecum on Friday, said the early results were impressive.

"It was good, man, really good," Blanco said. "Everything was down and moving."

In the past, it has taken Lincecum most of the spring to start consistently hitting the lower half of the zone, but Friday he graded himself as an eight out of 10.

"I'm looking for ground balls and not swings-and-misses as much," he said. "I'm going to get my swings-and-misses here and there, but I'm not looking for those as much as I am just crappy contact and ground balls."

  • It was hard to miss former Giant Andres Torres, who showed up at Scottsdale Stadium wearing bedazzled white jeans and an extremely tight turquoise shirt.

    "He still hasn't found a shirt to fit him," Bochy said. "But he looked good."

    Torres, 36, hit just .250 and struggled defensively last season before having season-ending heel surgery in August, but he hasn't retired. He hopes to start working out for teams in May or June.