SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It has been nearly a decade since Tim Lincecum burst onto the Cactus League scene, drawing executives and radar guns every time he stepped on a mound. Kyle Crick doesn't have quite the same résumé, but plenty of curious eyes were watching when Crick threw two innings in a "B" game in Mesa on Monday morning.
When Crick returned to Scottsdale Stadium, he knew just where to go: Lincecum's locker.
"I've learned more (this spring) than I have in my whole minor league career," said Crick, a former first-round pick who has made a habit of peppering veterans with questions.
Crick is the organization's top prospect, a title Lincecum held briefly during his meteoric rise to big league success. If all goes according to plan, the two will one day share the same clubhouse at AT&T Park. On Monday, they had similar results.
Lincecum breezed through his first inning of the spring, getting back to the dugout in less than three minutes thanks to three ground outs. He briefly lost his command in the second inning against the San Diego Padres, giving up a ringing double and walking Ryan Jackson on four pitches, but Lincecum recovered to keep the game scoreless. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out one in two innings.
"(The grounders), that's what I was looking for, especially in that first inning," Lincecum said. "It's kind of discouraging in the second inning when everything is up again, but those are things I've got to work on. That's why we're here."
Lincecum didn't wait for his next bullpen session to work on a fix. As Jackson jogged to first, Lincecum stood on the mound and mimicked a couple of pitches. He said he was at times "gliding" toward the plate, not rotating, so his arm was dragging a bit and his fastball was staying up. Lincecum made the adjustment between hitters.
Crick's adjustment came in the dugout after he gave up a run to Chicago Cubs prospects in his first inning as a member of big league camp. The 21-year-old said he was nervous, but not because manager Bruce Bochy, general manager Brian Sabean and the majority of the front office attended the game.
"It was the first time, there were butterflies," Crick said. "The fact that I was on the mound in a big league game, even if it was a "B" game, it was still a big deal to me."
Crick acquitted himself nicely after a few minutes of gathering his thoughts on a dugout bench. He struck out the side in his second inning, using an overpowering fastball to edge top prospects Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.
"He was overthrowing a little bit early, but he regrouped and threw well," Bochy said.
Bochy thinks Lincecum is as sharp as he has ever been this early in spring, and No. 55 is not the only one shining on the mound. One time through the rotation, Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong have allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings. (Matt Cain's first spring start was rained out.)
"The first time out has been impressive," Bochy said. "To throw the ball the way they've been throwing says a lot about the type of shape they're in and where they are with their stuff."
Affeldt was pleased with his curveball and fastball and said his command "was scary good" for this time of year. Injuries limited Affeldt to 39 appearances last season, and he wasn't right when on the field. Affeldt allowed 53 percent of inherited runners to score and never found the form that has made him such a versatile weapon for Bochy. When locked in, Affeldt can pitch anywhere from long relief to the ninth, and he's the rare left-handed reliever who can excel against right-handed batters.
"He should feel good about this one," Bochy said. "I think we all get the same sense that it was a frustrating year for him and he wanted to bounce back."
The September surgery repaired two muscles and was supposed to strengthen Affeldt's core. After Monday's successful outing, Affeldt said this is the healthiest he has felt since 2009, when he had a 1.73 ERA in 74 appearances.
A's have bullpen options if Cook isn't ready for opening day. PAGE 3