Giants closer Brian Wilson 'pain-free,' ready to notch saves 

click to enlarge Giants closer Brian Wilson started and ended last season on the disabled list, but reported to be "pain-free" after his bullpen session Monday. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Giants closer Brian Wilson started and ended last season on the disabled list, but reported to be "pain-free" after his bullpen session Monday.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Giants closer Brian Wilson had no doubts Monday. No worries, either. He knows there is speculation. But let somebody else worry.

“If there’s a save opportunity on Opening Day, I’ll be saving the game,” Wilson said. “I’m ready.”

Wilson emerged from his third bullpen session at the Giants’ spring-training camp free of pain and full of confidence about the state of the injured elbow that haunted him and his teammates last year.

“I know I’m going to pitch pain-free,” he said without hesitating or blinking. “I’ll get the three outs I always get. And it’ll be exciting.”

Wilson, who went on the disabled list in mid-August last season, looked comfortable in a bullpen behind Scottsdale Stadium’s right-field fence. Wilson, also troubled last season by his back and hip, said he feels as if he is on schedule to throw in a Cactus League game on March 11 or March 12. More immediate, however, is another round in the bullpen and then a session against live hitters.

“I should get 10 to 11 innings in spring,” he said. “That’s good enough.”

For Tim Lincecum, there was a familiar tone in Wilson’s promise to re-exert the dominance he possessed in 2010.

“That’s the way everyone wants to see Willy — full of all that energy,” Lincecum said after his session Monday against live hitters. “To see him healthy and worry-free is good for us. I feel like he’s back to himself because he’s healthy.”

Through the first week and a half of camp, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he has been impressed by Wilson.

“It’s been a long road for him,” Bochy said. “He’s got his velocity back, his
cutter.”

But there were moments when he said Wilson was miserable.

“There are some doubts that creep into your mind, I’m sure,” Bochy said.

Doubts linger, at least they do for fans nervous about whether the elbow will withstand the wear-and-tear of another season.

“Am I surprised?” said Wilson, who started last season on the disabled list with back problems. “No, not surprised, not at all. I know that I opened on the DL and closed on the DL last year. I knew there would be concern. I’m just letting you know that there will be no reason for concern.”

GRADING ON THE CURVE
Lincecum graded himself as he walked off the field after his first session against live bats.

“For right now, 8.5,” he said of a scale that had 10 as the best possible mark. Lincecum penalized himself for letting his fastball travel too high.

“A lot of my fastballs, whether they were on the right side or the left side of the plate, were mid-thigh-high,” the right-hander said. “I had good rhythm and my change-up was good.”

Lincecum said he might have been too excited at his first session against live bats.

“It’s hard not to get a little pumped up,” he said. “It’s like ‘Hey, I’m going up against hitters today. That’s my job.’”

SPRING FLING
Infielder Freddy Sanchez wasn’t on the field Monday because of lower-back pain. “A little hiccup there,” Bochy said. Sanchez’s condition will be re-evaluated today by the medical staff. ... Buster Posey, who is coming off ankle surgery, took the day off. “That’s just part of the plan,” Bochy said. “We’ll ramp it up in the middle of spring training.”

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Norm Frauenheim

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