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Lincecum honors late brother with No. 44

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum made No. 55 an iconic number while playing for the Giants. He will wear No. 44 with the Rangers, and that has deep significance for him.

It was one of the numbers that his older brother Sean wore. Lincecum idolized his brother, who passed away on Feb. 22 after going through some personal struggles. Lincecum attended the funeral last weekend in Seattle, and that's why it took extra time to get his deal with the Rangers completed.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tim Lincecum made No. 55 an iconic number while playing for the Giants. He will wear No. 44 with the Rangers, and that has deep significance for him.

It was one of the numbers that his older brother Sean wore. Lincecum idolized his brother, who passed away on Feb. 22 after going through some personal struggles. Lincecum attended the funeral last weekend in Seattle, and that's why it took extra time to get his deal with the Rangers completed.

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The No. 44 was graciously given up by outfielder Destin Hood.

"The [story] behind that is, that was my brother's number as he became a coach, and was around kids a lot, so ..." Lincecum said. "He was a big part of my life, and I don't know, I just want to feel like I can carry him out there, and honor him, in a way, and have him close."

Lincecum's contract was officially finalized and announced on Wednesday. He was late to camp on Wednesday because there was a delay in getting him the word that he passed the physical, and the contract was completed. But he is now with the Rangers, in what has to have been an emotionally turbulent time.

"It's been tough," Lincecum said. "But I think I have the right people around me. I have a good support group. My family has been closer than ever, recently, so with that ... they've helped me out, and vice versa, so I think it's a ... I don't know ... that's probably all I've got right there."

The Rangers will not push him even though he has been throwing regularly in Seattle. The Rangers aren't even banking on him being ready for Opening Day.

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"We'll get him into camp, let him go through his routine, and combine that with our daily routine," manager Jeff Banister said. "When he is ready to get into a game situation, we'll get him in there. Whatever it takes. The last thing you want to do is rush a pitcher. We'll take it day to day."

Being used as a reliever should allow Lincecum to get ready quicker than if he was still a starter. He tries to join an impressive list of elite starters who found success in the bullpen.

"Obviously, I got sidelined with some stuff, personal issues," Lincecum said. "But I'm going to try to get off the mound here pretty soon. My regimen has been pretty strict without all this stuff going on right now, so we're just trying to stay with that, and not get sidetracked."

Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards with the Giants in 2008-09, and helped them win three World Series over a five-year period in 2010-14. But his time with the Giants came to an end after he underwent left hip surgery on Sept. 2, 2015, to repair a torn labrum.

He tried to come back with the Angels in 2016, but was 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA in just nine starts. His last start was on Aug. 5 of that year, and he did not pitch at all last season. He is 33 years old, and not ready to give it up.

"Eh, just thinking about baseball," Lincecum said. "Obviously, I've contemplated whether it was a good time to leave the game or not, but I think I owed it to myself to keep trying. I feel like I'm still at the age and I still have the youth and the will to kind of go after it again. As far as the game goes, I don't feel like I'm too old, but I still feel like there's a finite number of years left to make the most of it.

 "I think the hardest part about the last year and a half or so is all these birds are migrating south, and I feel like I'm kind of left behind. But this year I made it down, but I kinda got sidetracked -- I wouldn't say sidetracked -- but we had a little more important issues at hand that kind of got in the way of the beginning of this, but I'm here now and definitely looking forward to this."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Tim Lincecum