Lincoln Prepares To Prove Himself

Righthander battling to make rotation





BRADENTON, FLA.—Brad Lincoln was drafted six notches ahead of Tim Lincecum, No. 4 overall in 2006, but remains a notch or two out of the Pirates rotation.

Following a rough major league debut last year, he was competing with Charlie Morton for the fifth-starter vacancy in spring training, with Morton seen as having the edge. Still, Lincoln entered spring with the mindset of going north and looked strong in the early going.

"Clint said it's going to be a dogfight, and that's my mindset," Lincoln said, referring to new manager Clint Hurdle. "I want that. I love the competition. It drives me to do better, to make the team, to excel. My goal right now is to make the team out of spring training. And I've done everything in my power this offseason to make that possible."

That began with hiring a personal trainer for the first time. But Lincoln said most of his issues have been related to his approach and choices on the mound.

"For me, it's 80 percent mental," Lincoln said. "I have to go into this with the mentality that I'm going to do it, not just, 'Aw, I'm going to try to do it.' I'm going to be the best I can, and I'm going to win. I'm going right back to the mindset I had when I was drafted and just before I got called up last year."

Lincoln, 25, overcame Tommy John surgery and arrived in Pittsburgh last summer after a strong showing in Triple-A, but he went 1-4, 6.66 before being sent right back to Indianapolis. He was a September callup, but his mechanics were so out of whack that he was mostly limited to bullpen side sessions under coaches' supervision.

The mechanical mess was partly the doing of previous pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who was fired in midseason in part because of tinkering with Lincoln. But Lincoln blamed himself, too.

"The physical aspect is there, the delivery, the mechanics," he said. "It's more about my mentality, about being the bulldog. Put the past behind you, be who you are, and do what you can do."

TREASURE TROVE

• One pleasant surprise early in spring training was the pitching of Triple-A righthander Mike Crotta, owner of the best sinker in the system. "He's definitely got the attention of some people," Hurdle said. "He's pitching with purpose."

• The Pirates brought high Class A third base prospect Jeremy Farrell on their March 3 Grapefruit League trip to Dunedin, Fla., so he could play against his father, John Farrell, Toronto's new manager.