SAN FRANCISCO (AP) If he has to use crutches, Tim Lincecum sure digs his snazzy set that comfortably get him around following surgery on his left hip earlier this month. They allowed him to be back at the ballpark this week with his teammates and support system, including the faithful Giants fans.
''I'm more into the moment just being at the field, being around the guys,'' Lincecum said Tuesday. ''It's not going to happen again for a while.''
The San Francisco pitcher should be walking on his own again in a matter of days - ''full weight-bearing for short distances in four days or so,'' he said. He did his first light walking Monday and Tuesday in the training room, so Lincecum is appreciating the small steps and strides in his recovery.
''He seems to be all right,'' pitching coach Dave Righetti said.
In terms of when he might start a throwing program, whether he works out for other clubs as a pending free agent or anything else regarding his future, he's not yet ready to guess on a schedule. He does hope to return to the Giants next year and the familiarity he has with a franchise that he helped win three World Series championships over the past five years.
''Bittersweet,'' he said of the way his season went. ''But it's better right now to have some sweet.''
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip Sept. 3. He has done some work on a stationary bike along with water therapy. He is working out seven days a week to rehab, and three of those are two-a-day sessions.
''It's pretty busy but I like it. It makes my body feel good,'' Lincecum said. ''It's been a big relief off my mind.''
Lincecum didn't pitch after June 27 because of degenerative hips and went 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts. That's after he pitched two no-hitters in an 11-month span against San Diego, first in July 2013 and again the next June.
He is wrapping up a $35 million, two-year contract that paid him $18 million this season. Lincecum joined a long list of key Giants sidelined by injuries down the stretch.
''I think that's what's different about the situation is it wasn't like an injury that I caused,'' he said. ''It was just kind of a structural issue I had going on that kind of came on as a bigger issue just because I've been pitching on it so long. With that, I've just been trying to work ahead and think about the future and obviously be in the moment at the same time.''
That's why he is not spending much energy worrying about next season just yet. He said he would ''hope'' to be back with the Giants but needs to focus on his health first and foremost so he gives himself the best chance to mount a meaningful comeback in 2016.
''That'd be really nice obviously, something to not to have to worry about if it comes to that,'' he said of pitching for the Giants. ''But right now, I think I'm kind of worried about myself a little bit. It sounds a little selfish. But this is the first time I've ever had to deal with a major injury so I'm trying to get my mind around that.''
The 31-year-old Lincecum will spend the offseason in Arizona rehabilitating rather than his usual return to his native Seattle area, where he expects to go only for holidays.
In 2010, he pitched the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas and then was a key reliever during the 2012 title run and four-game sweep of Detroit. While Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter against the Padres on June 25, 2014, the four-time All-Star was moved to the bullpen in late August last year. But manager Bruce Bochy made it clear he would start this year back in the rotation.
Lincecum was shown in the dugout briefly during Monday night's game and the sellout crowd went crazy. While Lincecum was scheduled for a flight back to Phoenix early Wednesday, he hoped to get one more chance to show the fans how much he cherishes them for years of support through ups and downs.
''I hope something happens. Obviously, I would like to show my appreciation one way or another just because they've been with me day in and day out,'' he said. ''These fans don't get paid to be here. It's on the other side. It's completely selfless, and to be able to kind of give yourself in that way I understand as a fan of sports is pretty special, and I can definitely relate to it.''