Brad Lincoln smiled when asked whether it was different coming to Pittsburgh this time than it was in early June.
A little easier? Yes.
But still, there’s that sense of anxiety and anticipation, especially after his first stint with the Pirates.
Lincoln was with the team from June 9 through July 24, when he made his last start against San Diego before being sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis with a few ticks off his velocity, a 1-4 record and a 6.57 ERA in nine starts.
Two weeks later, you’ll recall, pitching coach Joe Kerrigan was fired. John Russell wouldn’t get into specifics behind the decision to let Kerrigan and bench coach Gary Varsho go, but general manager Neal Huntington did cite “some mechanical changes at the major-league level” when talking specifically about Lincoln.
Lincoln acknowledged today that there were some adjustments made that put his mind more on what he was doing rather than getting batters out.
But the biggest thing in Indianapolis was not to re-work his mechanics, Lincoln said, but rather his mental approach, and it’s still a work-in-progress.
“Getting back to who I was and being that guy who’s going to go right after somebody and not hold anything back,” Lincoln said. “For me, I have to be pretty physical with my delivery so I just need to get back to that form and way of thinking. That was a big part of it.”
Lincoln thought about it for a second when asked if he’d classify his performance as tentative the first time in Pittsburgh.
“I guess,” he said. “It was one of those things where I was just throwing. I wasn’t pitching. The catcher would call something and I’d say OK, just because, because I really wasn’t holding myself accountable for pitching my game. That’s what I needed to get back to doing and I feel like I’ve done that.”
Lincoln just pitched on Sunday with Indianapolis, so he won’t be available for a few more days. When he is ready, however, he’ll be in the bullpen.
Russell said it’s not a permanent move, and wouldn’t detail what, exactly, Lincoln’s role will be as a reliever. In four years as a professional, Lincoln has never pitched in relief.
“I can’t say we’ll use him for four-inning stand or whatever, it’s just kind of where we are in the game,” Russell said. “Obviously he’s probably going to start an inning and not come in in the middle because he’s never done that. We’ll give him ample time to get ready. It will probably be in the early or middle part of the game.”
Here are tonight’s lineups.
Pirates – McCutchen cf, Tabata lf, Walker 2b, Jones 1b, Alvarez 3b, Doumit rf, Cedeno ss, Snyder c, McDonald p.
Braves – Infante 2b, Heyward rf, Prado 3b, McCann c, Lee 1b, Cabrera lf, Gonzalez ss, Ankiel cf, Hudson p.