Rangers officially ink Lincecum to 1-year deal

Role in Texas' bullpen yet to be determined

March 6th, 2018

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- , whose one-year deal with the Rangers was confirmed on Tuesday by general manager Jon Daniels, formally joined the team on Wednesday when the signing was announced.

Lincecum arrived in camp on Tuesday after attending his brother Sean's funeral on Saturday. That difficult circumstance delayed the physical and the announcement. Lincecum did not have a formal press conference, but did talk to a few reporters after a light workout. He said the Dodgers and the Rangers were the two teams he strongly considered, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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"I think it's a great opportunity," Lincecum said. "It was a difficult decision with the Dodgers and the Rangers, but it came down to those two teams. I thought the Rangers would be a better fit. The conversations that we had just made me feel a little bit more warm and fuzzy inside."

Lincecum also said he passed the physical.

Daniels said Lincecum was signed to pitch out of the bullpen, even though he has been a starter all his professional career. It could be in middle relief, it could be as a setup reliever, or Lincecum could be given a chance at closing.

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"He will be in the bullpen, what the role is exactly remains to be seen," Daniels said. "That will be performance-driven by both Tim and the rest of the bullpen. He doesn't want to close the door on starting, but he said that is not where his head is right now. It will be a bullpen role."

Lincecum said he is intrigued by the possibility of being a closer.

"They see that," Lincecum said. "I feel like I could do that. I've done that in the Cape [Cod League] and at the college level. It's going to be, obviously, different, but I feel like I could tap into that mentality. Right now, I'm just trying to see where I fit on this team. The idea was to go to a bullpen role because I felt like that's what would be best for the way I am right now and at this point in my career." 

The Rangers signed Lincecum after one of their scouts -- Mike Anderson -- saw him throw in a tryout camp in Seattle. Lincecum has been throwing bullpens in preparation for the season, and the Rangers don't expect him to need an excessive amount of time to get ready. But Opening Day is still an uncertainty.

"He is as close to being in game shape as you can be," Daniels said. "We'll go through the progression of bullpens and live batting practice before he gets into a game. But he is farther along than most guys are on reporting day."

Lincecum did not pitch at all last season. He was with the Giants from 2007-2015, helping them win three World Series. He was also the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2008-09.

But his career seemed on the brink after he underwent left hip surgery in September 2015 to repair a torn labrum. He tried to make a comeback with the Angels in 2016, and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA in nine starts. 

"I'm not 100 percent [sure] what to expect," Daniels said. "I'm not putting any expectations out there. You are talking about two realities. One, you are talking about one of the best pitchers of this generation. From that standpoint -- it's like what I used to say about Josh Hamilton -- nothing would surprise me.

"On the flip side, he has had some physical ailments, he didn't pitch last year and he hasn't pitched [at his best] in quite a while. We'll just let him pitch and see."

The Rangers believe he is over the hip injury that has been cited as the leading reason why Lincecum went into decline. That was one of the things Anderson was watching carefully at the tryout.

"The biggest thing was how well his body worked, especially where he had the hip issues," Daniels said. "The explosiveness in his delivery, his body … the flexibility and mobility in his legs, the transition to a bullpen role, that gave us confidence he can be a part of the team. The power he was generating was encouraging."

Daniels remembers Lincecum well from the 2010 World Series. Lincecum won two games in the Series as the Giants won it all in five. Daniels said that came up during a phone conversation after the Rangers reached an agreement with him.

"He apologized for it," Daniels said. "It wasn't a sincere apology."