Tim Lincecum calls emotional return to Oracle Park ‘spine-tingling'


SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum tried to recreate a defining image from his time with Buster Posey. Back at Oracle Park for the first time in four years, the former Giants ace attempted to sneak up on Posey and initiate a Buster Hug.

"I was trying to be poetic there," Lincecum said, smiling. 

But as Lincecum looked up at the crowd of nearly 100 current and former Giants, he lost Posey. Nobody lost Lincecum, though. On Bruce Bochy's final day, Giants fans finally got their chance to show their appreciation for the most popular player of the Bochy era. 

Lincecum is famously private, but he knew he wanted to be here for Bochy. He was the last player to walk through the center field gate and got the loudest ovation of the day before walking toward the plate with members of the 2014 championship team. An hour later, Lincecum stood near the mound where he had so many awe-inspiring moments and said the ovation was "spine-tingling" and "surreal."

"I wasn't prepared for that. It was really cool. It was like going back in time," he said. "It was very fun, it was really fun to see everybody. It was like going back in a time machine and you almost wish that you're out there playing again. It is what it is and time goes on, but it was really nice."

There were dozens of former players who showed up to honor Bochy, from longtime Giants like Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez and Gregor Blanco, to guys like Marco Scutaro and Edgar Renteria, who were shining stars in championship runs. 

But No. 55 has always been different. As of Sunday morning, even some longtime Giants employees weren't sure if they would see Lincecum. But he watched the game from a suite and then surprised the fans and Bochy, who said seeing Lincecum put him over the edge emotionally. After the ceremony, the two spent a long time talking together on the field. 

Asked what he remembers most about Bochy, Lincecum smiled and immediately jumped into a long story. 

"I think it was in 2012, when I was struggling. It was in Miami and Sabes and him brought me in to check and see how I was doing," Lincecum said. "I think I gave up like five in the fourth inning and I was doing pretty well up to that point, but I was going through a really hard year that year. He just kind of lifted me up and got me to believe in myself again. You know how emotional I get -- I can get down on myself, and it turns into almost like a hurricane or wave that you can't get out of your own way of. 

"When I talked to him and Sabes, the belief that they had in me definitely pushed me to just want to be out there more. It wasn't about going out there every day and just like leaving it out on the field. They knew who I was and I was an emotional player and I was going to be that guy and they wanted me to continue being that guy."

Bochy always believed in Lincecum and that has stuck with the right-hander over the years. It's why he jumped back into the public eye Sunday, a backwards hat covering his blonde-tipped hair and a long-sleeved shirt tied around his waist. For a moment, it was like nothing had ever changed. 

Lincecum said he hopes to take part in something like this again. A few feet away, Larry Baer stood smiling. He reminded Lincecum that next year is the 10th anniversary of the first of three titles.

[RELATED: Read Bochy's entire farewell speech]

The Giants will be celebrating that one, too, and they would love for Lincecum to be here again. On Sunday, he looked like a man who was very happy to see so many old friends. 

"It's very emotional, man," he said. "I'm sad and happy. I'm really happy to see everybody but it's sad that that's it. I'd imagine people will find a way to get back together and make something like this happen again, but it's really hard to recreate what just happened."

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