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Banister has high expectations for Lincecum

Right-hander agreed to contract with Rangers on Tuesday
Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have not officially announced the signing of former Giants star right-hander Tim Lincecum, whom they agreed to a contract with Tuesday, pending a physical, so their plans for the 33-year-old right-hander remain speculative for now.

Lincecum could compete for the closer's role, or be a candidate for the starting rotation. But one thing is certain: Lincecum's new manager has seen enough of him to have high expectations.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have not officially announced the signing of former Giants star right-hander Tim Lincecum, whom they agreed to a contract with Tuesday, pending a physical, so their plans for the 33-year-old right-hander remain speculative for now.

Lincecum could compete for the closer's role, or be a candidate for the starting rotation. But one thing is certain: Lincecum's new manager has seen enough of him to have high expectations.

"I know he's got two Cy Youngs, he was an All-Star four times … his nickname was 'The Freak' and he was really, really good," manager Jeff Banister said. "That's what I know about him. Just the overall stuff and how he competed -- his stuff was electric, you didn't see anybody like this. He was about as individual as they come. He's pretty special."

Banister's familiarity with Lincecum stems from the manager's time as Pirates bench coach from 2011-14. Lincecum won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008 and '09, and he was a key piece of the Giants teams that won three World Series during his time there from 2007-15.

Banister and the Rangers also saw Lincecum in 2016, when he struggled to a 2-6 record and 9.16 ERA in nine starts for the Angels. One of those two wins came against Texas, when Lincecum allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits and struck out seven in five innings on July 19, 2016.

Video: TEX@LAA: Lincecum fans Rua to escape bases-loaded jam

A month later, Lincecum underwent left hip surgery. He did not pitch professionally last season.

A 40-man roster move will be necessary if Lincecum's deal is a Major League contract as expected. Terms of the contract have yet to be disclosed.

Profar 'locked in'
Batting third and playing shortstop in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox, utility man Jurickson Profar went 1-for-3, plating the game's first run with an RBI double to left-center field in the first inning.

"Really good balance from both sides of the plate, very aggressive, early-count swinging," Banister said. "He's not missing. He seems to be pretty well locked in on the fastball right now."

Video: TEX@CWS: Profar doubles home Choo in the first

Profar missed the Opening Day roster last year, despite a decent spring, and he did not get a September callup. This spring, Banister wants to be sure Profar has the opportunity to make his case for staying with the Major League club.

"The biggest thing for him is right now he knows that he's going to be out there playing, he's going to be staying on the dirt for now, playing a lot of shortstop, second base and some third base," Banister said. "It's a situation where I told him, 'Don't worry about what the end of Spring Training brings, just go get yourself ready to play and make yourself one of the core group of players.' He's doing that."

Rangers bullish on Perez's timetable
After Martin Perez threw well in live batting practice Tuesday, Banister said the Rangers left-hander is pushing himself on an aggressive timetable to return from a freak elbow injury involving a bull on his ranch in Venezuela. Perez broke his right elbow and had surgery in December.

Banister said Perez is motivated to prove wrong anyone who doubts he'll be ready to start when his turn in the rotation comes in April.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"Keep telling him he can't, do us a favor," Banister said. "This is a high-achieving [player] mentally, he wants to be great, he really does. Sometimes the 'want to' and then the 'how to,' they've got to match up. We're getting real close to that with Martin.

"The other part of that is that he went through a situation this winter that I'm sure scared him. You can get scared and feared into being really good and sharp. That's kind of where he's at. Along with that, I know Martin, the more you question whether or not he'll be able to do this, it'll be better for us."

Claudio, Jurado see first action
Coming off a stellar 2017 season in which he ranked among the American League's top 10 relievers in ERA, innings, games and games finished, left-hander Alex Claudio made his first Cactus League appearance of '18 with a scoreless third inning on Wednesday. Claudio hit Tyler Saladino, but he quickly induced a double play and a weak groundout to first base for a clean outing.

Ariel Jurado also appeared in his first spring game, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief.

Up next
The Rangers will play split-squad action Thursday, with Bartolo Colon starting at home in Surprise, Ariz., against the Padres and Clayton Blackburn starting at Hohokam Stadium against the A's.

Colon is a 20-year veteran, 240-game winner and non-roster invitee making his first start with the Rangers, while Blackburn is a 25-year-old prospect who pitched 19 games (18 starts) for Triple-A Round Rock last season, going 6-2 with a 4.65 ERA. First pitch for both games is 2:05 p.m. CT.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.

Texas Rangers, Tim Lincecum