ST. LOUIS -- Because of a doubleheader Saturday and a spot start by long reliever Chad Gaudin on Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had Tim Lincecum available out of the bullpen for this past weekend's three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lincecum ultimately wasn't needed, but he said he wouldn't fight a return to that role if that's what the Giants need in the coming months. Lincecum starred as a reliever last postseason, helping the Giants win a second World Series title in three years.
"Whatever they need, I'll do," Lincecum said. "You go with whatever the team calls for."
A club source told CSN Bay Area that the Giants would move Lincecum to the bullpen "in a heartbeat" if they had another starting pitcher in the system who could fill his spot. But the Giants have few options at Triple-A and used Gaudin on Sunday because Ryan Vogelsong is on the disabled list and Mike Kickham was sent back to the minors. It was Gaudin's first start since 2009.
Lincecum has been a starter in 199 of his 200 career regular-season appearances but has long been thought of as a perfect candidate to transition to the bullpen. He has a 5.12 ERA as a starter this season after posting a 5.18 mark last season. When the Giants moved him to the bullpen for the playoffs last year, Lincecum gave up just one run in five relief appearances. He had 17 strikeouts in 13 innings with only two walks and three hits allowed.
Lincecum acknowledged that he has thought of the possibility of his future being as a reliever, saying it is "in the back of my mind, the very far back."
For now, Lincecum is committed to starting in his final year before he hits free agency.
"Right now, my focus is on starting this season," he said. "If things are not going well as a starter, I'm not going to back off in my preparation. I'm definitely not planning on changing anything."
For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic. ___