Texas Rangers

Have Rangers found their closer? Lincecum: 'I think I could tap into that mentality'

His physical exam taken and presumably passed, Tim Lincecum embarked on reviving his career Tuesday afternoon with the Texas Rangers.

The deal wasn't officially announced, though Lincecum thinks he received an A on the exam and general manager Jon Daniels made the unprecedented move of confirming that the Rangers had reached an agreement with the two-time Cy Young winner before the deal was done.

Lincecum will be a reliever this season, Daniels said, on a team with a bullpen that doesn't yet have any defined roles.

The signing is expected to be announced Wednesday, and Lincecum will face a larger media contingent as opposed to the three-man crew that stumbled onto him while working out on the back fields at the Surprise Recreation Campus.

He played catch and threw balls into netting to get a feel for his mechanics, and then said that, yeah, he thinks he could be the Rangers' closer this season if it came to that.

"They see that," Lincecum said. "I feel like I could do that. I've done that in the Cape 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."

Alex Claudio, Jake Diekman, Keone Kela and Chris Martin will all receive consideration to be closer, and one of them could end up in the role as the Rangers keep an open mind when considering the best fit for Lincecum.

He also sees an opportunity to contribute and said that he chose the Rangers over the Los Angeles Dodgers because he thought there was a better fit on the team he beat twice in the 2010 World Series while with the San Francisco Giants.

"The conversations that we had just made me feel a little bit more warm and fuzzy inside," said Lincecum, who later acknowledged feeling a void in his life without baseball. "I feel like it would be tough to give up the game while I still have the ability to play it."

Starting isn't entirely off the table, either in Lincecum's mind or in the Rangers' thoughts, but it would be something further down the road. Daniels said that it hasn't been discussed at length with Lincecum.

But the Rangers liked what they saw on video, and pro scout Mike Anderson put his eyes on Lincecum last month during a showcase in Kent, Wash. Daniels said that Lincecum's mechanics looked the same as is heyday, and the strength in his lower half has returned after a season off in 2017.

Lincecum, bothered by hip issues previously, looks fresh. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister looked at all the necessary film and exams over the weekend and saw no cause for alarm.

"The biggest thing that stood out was how well his body worked, specifically the hips where he had some of the issues a couple years ago," Daniels said. "Just the explosiveness back in his delivery. Between that and transition to a bullpen role, it gave us some confidence that he could be a successful part of the team.

"The thought is that he would come in in a bullpen role. What exactly that role is remains to be seen. Is it a multi-inning early spot? Does he kind of graduate further back in the game? I think that's going to be performance-related, both with Tim and the rest of our 'pen."

The catch with Lincecum, 33, is that he might not be ready by Opening Day on March 29. While Lincecum threw regularly during the off-season and is close to game shape, Daniels said that the Rangers will ask him to throw bullpen sessions and live batting practice before getting into a game.

Lincecum said that he will take camp day by day and isn't sure if he will be ready after being understandably sidetracked while coping with the death of his older brother for the past two weeks.

He plans to wear No. 44, currently worn by outfielder Destin Hood, as a way to honor his brother, who wore that number when he played.

"He was always an idol to me," Lincecum said.

Michael Young, the Rangers Hall of Famer in camp as a special assistant to Daniels, said that everything the club has seen and heard is that Lincecum is worth the low-risk contract that will pay him a base salary of $1 million.

"By every account he's in great shape and his stuff has looked good when scouts have had the chance to see him," said Michael Young, the Rangers Hall of Famer in camp in his role as special assistant to Daniels.

"Timmy's the kind of guy that you want to see it. He has shown the ability to go out there and dominate games. He's the guy that gets the opportunity to get that second look."

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