Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Butterflies accompany Lincecum to Rock Round. Here's why that's a good thing

Tim Lincecum said he had to overcome a serious case of nerves Monday night while pitching on rehab assignment at Triple A Round Rock. It was his first game since 2016.
Tim Lincecum said he had to overcome a serious case of nerves Monday night while pitching on rehab assignment at Triple A Round Rock. It was his first game since 2016. Round Rock Express

The first hot day of the spring arrived Monday, though a security guard at Globe Life Park insisted it got pretty hot Sunday afternoon.

But the official first-pitch temperature for the opener of the Texas Rangers' three-game series against the Detroit Tigers was 91 degrees — the first of many temps that will exceed 90 this season.

The next one could come Tuesday, as Mike Minor pitches on four days' rest for the first time this season.

Come July, temperatures will range from hot to damn hot to when's that roof going to be ready?

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 7-6 victory.

1. Tim Lincecum is pitching in games again, albeit on rehab assignment for Triple A Round Rock. But it was his first game of any kind since 2016, and his first feeling completely confident in his health.

He isn't having to alter his delivery as much as he did back then, and he will have more velocity as a result. The results will be better than what he did in his one inning, allowing two runs on a hit and a walk.

The walk was to the first batter faced. His first pitch went to the backstop, and he was flagged a ball because he didn't beat the minor-league pitch clock.

He struck out two, so it wasn't all bad. He left feeling healthy, and that's huge.

"Physically, I feel fine," Lincecum said. "I was using my fastball, changeup and slider. My slider was good. ... I was able to work on all my pitches. The slider was good. The changeup was good at times. Fastball was here and there, but when I needed it to be, it was good."

But he also felt some butterflies, and that says something.

Lincecum badly wants this to work.

"It was more the nerves than anything," Lincecum said. "I was just trying to calm myself down, get my heart rate down. I’ve been there a thousand times, and this was no different. Just being off for a while let those nerves there.

"It was pretty nerve-racking, I’d say. The first three batters or so, my nerves were gone and my legs were shaking a little bit. But I shook it off after that, and it was about as bad as it could get with those first three batters. ... Other than that, it was nice to get my feet wet and get on the mound again, grasp my emotions and finish off the inning in a positive manner.

"I love the game too much to give it up just from facing some adversity here and there. I think we all face adversity, either on the field or away from the field, and I wasn’t going to let it define me, especially in a moment like this. I’m going to try to seize it the best I can and take advantage of the time that I have."

The injury news (item No. 3 aside) is getting less and less gloomy for the Rangers, who worked out Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre on Monday. Odor will go to Round Rock on Tuesday, probably for two more games, and Beltre could be activated any time between Tuesday and May 17 at Chicago. He won't put a date on it, but it seems like it will be in the short term.

Elvis Andrus will have an MRI on Wednesday to check the fracture near his right elbow. If it's good, he could start strengthening exercises. Andrus is on the 60-day DL, though, and isn't eligible until June 11.

So, what will the Rangers have when all parties are back? It appears as if they will still have questions in the rotation and bullpen, a few less questions in the lineup and a long uphill climb to relevance.

2. Two teams a combined 15 games under .500 played the kind of game that you might expect.

The starting pitching was good at times but needed to be better.

The defense was costly for each team at times but also saved each team at times.

Each time has talented players, and it showed through at times.

The result was two offenses that took advantage of opportunities given to them, and one did it just a tad better than the other.

And the winning team always thinks it was a good game.

For the Rangers, coping with young and still developing players, it was a good win.

Similar to a week ago at Cleveland when they blew a 6-0 lead but won in 12 innings, this one should be something for the kiddos to put in the memory bank. They erased a 5-1 deficit with a four-run sixth and a 6-5 deficit with a two-run seventh, jumping on mistake pitches or fielding gaffes while overcoming their own mistakes in the field.

"We've got a lot of young guys out there," center fielder Delino DeShields said. "So I think it shows a lot about our character and our grit to come out there and keep fighting and communication with each other and encouraging each other throughout the game."

Everyone's favorite rookie, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, came up big with the bat and glove. He doubled in two runs in the sixth and scored the tying run from second base as he raced home on Ronald Guzman's infield hit.

He saw a pop-up bang off his glove for an error in the eighth, after the Rangers had taken the lead in the seventh, but made the play of the game (with an assist from a replay review) a few batters later.

Renato Nunez took in a Victor Martinez chopper to third and fired to second in an effort to turn two. The throw was in the dirt and scooped on a short hop by Kiner-Falefa, who then threw to first to easily get Martinez.

Umpire Angel Hernandez called the runner safe, saying Kiner-Falefa didn't hold the bag. The Rangers believed the replay showed otherwise, and their challenge was successful.

Inning over. Keone Kela bounced back from two tough outings to notch the save.

It was one of those wins that can benefit teams filled with young players.

"You never know what can happen," DeShields said.

3. The latest example of how valuable a spot on the 40-man roster was presented about an hour before first pitch, when the Rangers placed Drew Robinson on the disabled list and recalled infielder Eliezer Alvarez.

What's an Eliezer Alvarez? He's a late-spring waiver claim from Philadelphia who has spent all season at Double A Frisco and has never, ever played above Double A. He's a big-leaguer now, at least until Odor is activated, thanks to having a 40-man spot.

Robinson has been bothered lately by left hip soreness. He originally was in the lineup Monday before getting scratched and, later, placed on the DL. Hip pain isn't the only thing giving Robinson problems.

He is a .175 hitter who is batting .131 (8 for 61) in his last 20 games. He has the fourth-most strikeouts (45) in the American League despite having only 80 at-bats.

The good news for him is that he is versatile. He is the only player on the roster who can back up in center field and at shortstop — not even the great Isiah Kiner-Falefa can do that — and that's why the Rangers haven't sent him to Triple A Round Rock to sort out his shortcomings.

Maybe some DL time will allow for that, because the Rangers will still have need for a backup for DeShields. Ryan Rua could do that but really never has. Carlos Tocci, the Rule 5 player, is on the DL with a bruised left hip and is current hiding out at extended spring training.

Even the 25th spot on the roster can create a ton of headaches for a team.

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