SURPRISE — After failed communication between the team and player delayed official announcement of a deal, Tim Lincecum, the former two-time Cy Young Award winner, was officially named as a member of the Texas Rangers Wednesday morning.
The past week has been an emotional roller coaster for the pitcher.
Along with the report he was signing with the Rangers last week, after being out of baseball for over a year, his brother, Sean Lincecum, 37, passed away, which delayed his arrival.
“It’s been tough,” Lincecum said. “I think I have the right people around me. I have a good support group. My family has been closer than ever.”.
To honor his brother, Lincecum will wear number 44, a number Sean wore as a coach working around kids.
“I just want to feel like I can carry him out there and honor him in a way and have him close.”
The number was previously held by Destin Hood. After a short text exchange, Hood willingly granted Lincecum the number.
Manager Jeff Banister is more than excited to have the former Cy Young winner in camp.
“Anytime you get that kind of pedigree in camp, the hardware he brings with him is obviously exciting,” Bannister said.
On top of the two Cy Young awards, Lincecum has won three World Series, is a four-time All-Star and threw two no-hitters all while with the San Francisco Giants.
Video by Samuel Hoyle/Cronkite News
The Rangers were one of multiple teams reportedly interested in the former Cy Young winner.
“That says something about what he thinks about our (organization), the personality and culture of our club,” Banister said.
Lincecum says, “It was just the opportunity they presented in front of me. They were giving me a lot of leeway to do my own thing and feel out what is going on.”
The leeway Lincecum may be referencing is the opportunity to come out of the bullpen.
“I told them I wanted to go as a bullpen role but I’d be open to other things obviously if I prove myself worthy of it,” Lincecum said.
The Dodgers were rumored to be one of the teams interested in the Lincecum sweepstakes. He did admit his association with the Giants did play a factor in the direction he went.
“I think it will be hard to work around that especially with everything that is going on,” he said. “A fresh start would be easier over here.”
Rumors have circulated that Lincecum would become the Rangers’ closer this season.
“Well wouldn’t that be a story,” Banister mused.
The team wants to see how the pitcher looks before he is assigned a role, Bannister said.
“(We want) to get him in camp, see him go through the routine and see where he is at and take it a day at a time,” Banister said. “I think it would be unfair to write anything other than that right now.”
Lincecum wants to throw more often, focusing on lower pitch counts to get off the mound more with his famous delivery.
He had hip surgery in the fall of 2015 that ended his historic career with the Giants.
Lincecum thinks he is getting back to that consistency.
“Just getting back to the feelings of being me and what I thought I looked like back when I was pitching at my best.”
It is unknown when Lincecum will pitch in a game this spring.
“We know the schedule he has been on, combine that with what our daily routine is,” Banister said. “So just take the day to day where his normal routine is and then when he is ready to get into a game setting we will get him.”
As for Opening Day, both he and the Rangers want to take their time.
“I’m not going to put it off the table but like I said yesterday, I am taking it one day at a time to see where I am at and feel where I fit in best with this team,” Lincecum said.
The last thing Banister wants is to rush Lincecum or any pitcher.
“We want the best performing, healthiest guy we can put out there on that elevated position,” Banister said.
To make room on the Rangers active roster, the club designated catcher Brett Nicholas for assignment this morning.
Nicholas was well respected throughout the locker room and organization.
“The toughest part of a manager’s job is to deliver that type of news, that doesn’t matter who the person is,” Banister said. “However, it becomes a little more challenging when a guy has a great personality and is a tremendous human being.”
Bannister added that “a really good mentor of mine would tell players like this ‘delay is not denial’ and that is the truth. Just because we as an organization delayed the process of playing doesn’t deny the opportunity.”
Nicholas will have 10 days to clear waivers. If he does there is a possibility he could return to the team.