Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: Will Tim Lincecum ever throw a pitch for Rangers?

Tim Lincecum is throwing the ball better of late at Triple A Round Rock.
Tim Lincecum is throwing the ball better of late at Triple A Round Rock. Round Rock Express

Someone on my Facebook page — which if you're not following or liking, you really should be — commented how old he feels now that Ivan Rodriguez's oldest son, Dereck, is a major leaguer.

The San Francisco Giants purchased his Triple A contract Monday and put him in their bullpen at Colorado. Dereck Rodriguez, 25, converted from outfielder to pitcher after the 2014 season.

Anyhoo, the comment made me realize that one of the reasons I've grown fond of Bartolo Colon is because he is the only player in the major leagues who is older than I am. Adrian Beltre is never going to catch me, but his advanced age is another check mark in his favor.

Good for the Rodriguez family for what is a big day, even for the Hall of Fame family patriarch.

It wasn't a good day for Pudge's current employer and the team that signed and developed him. It wasn't all bad.

Here's some Rangers Reaction from a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

1. The stars were aligned almost perfectly for Tim Lincecum. Almost.

The former National League Cy Young winner became eligible Monday for reinstatement form the 60-day disabled list and join the Texas Rangers' roster. His debut after nearly a two-year layoff from baseball could have come in his hometown.

He couldn't have drawn it up any better.

But the right-hander also needed to be pitching well at Triple A Round Rock while on rehab assignment after not pitching anywhere in MLB since 2016. The Rangers also needed to have a spot on the 40-man roster.

Almost.

Lincecum was not activated from the DL as the Rangers opened a four-game series at Safeco Field, and Rangers manager Jeff Banister said that the plan is to keep Lincecum on assignment.

He isn't ready yet. Will he ever be?

"We're going to continue the process, continue to pitch, continue to work on the command and continue to work on Tim," Banister said. "He's getting closer. Based on the reports, it's the consistency of the command and holding the delivery together."

Lincecum has a 7.45 ERA and a .317 opponents average through eight appearances. He has walked seven and struck out 10, and has only one scoreless outing. That came Saturday night as he worked on consecutive days for the first time.

His fastball velocity has hovered around 90 mph, but the Rangers believe that could be enough as long as the changeup is a quality pitch.

The Rangers can keep Lincecum on assignment through June 6. At that point, they can add him to the roster or ask him to accept an option to the minors.

Or they can release him.

With their financial commitment to Lincecum only $1 million, the Rangers wouldn't be taking a massive hit if their gamble on him doesn't work out. Their action Monday suggests they don't think it's working out yet.

The Rangers have only a day to decide what to do with Ricky Rodriguez, who has been on the 60-day DL since Opening Day. The righty was also eligible Monday, and a roster move will be made Tuesday to get him on the 40-man roster.

It is unlikely that he will be added to the active roster even though he has a 0.93 ERA after 10 games and hasn't allow a run in his past nine.

"It's all been pluses," Banister said. "We're always discussing options. I don't think that's going to be the No. 1 option at this point."

The Rangers' 40-man roster filled up last week when Austin Bibens-Dirkx's Triple A contract was purchased. He is scheduled to pitch Tuesday, and the Rangers are too thin on starting pitchers to consider taking him off their roster to create a 40-man spot for Rodriguez.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus is going to need a 40-man spot in a few weeks, but not before a decision on Lincecum must be made. The Rangers have only a few candidates to be designated for assignment to create 40-man openings.

The hope all along, of course, has been for Lincecum to find some of what made him so successful nearly a decade ago with the San Francisco Giants. He showed enough positive signs that could happen during a February showcase, and the Rangers were one of only two teams to offer Lincecum a major-league deal.

There was immediate talk of him being a closer, but for sure a late-innings arm. One inning? Multiple innings? It didn't matter.

That was then. As of Monday, when he was still on the 60-day DL, he still needs work just to be on a major-league roster.



2. For five full innings, Doug Fister was following his blueprint to a tee.

The right-hander was at only 55 pitches through five scoreless and had allowed only one hit and a walk. The outfielders had only two putouts.

That meant the Fister sinker was sinking, and Mariners hitters were hitting the ball on the ground at Rangers fielders.

But his final inning-plus didn't go as planned even though he stuck to what makes him successful. The grounders turned into line drives, and grounders starting find holes.

Seattle collected four singles in the sixth to score two runs and erase a 1-0 Rangers lead. Rougned Odor couldn't handle a hard grounder to him that would have resulted in an inning-ending double play following the first single.

If the Rangers turn that, the final three singles — and two runs — don't happen.

Fister was gone after the first two Mariners reached in the seventh, even though he was at only 83 pitches.

It was the right call by Banister. Things looked to be slipping away from Fister at a time when the Rangers couldn't have any more slippage.

The Fister Era with the Rangers is now 10 starts old. He's had three clunkers in there, but the other seven have been good enough for him to pitch to a 4.09 ERA. The Rangers are 4-6 when he starts.

Signed for only $4 million early in the off-season, this value signing is working out. It hasn't been a steal, but it hasn't been a disaster.



3. The catch prospect Eric Jenkins made Sunday afternoon for High A Down East has gone viral, as the kids say. I think it sounds silly when anyone older than, say, a recent college graduate says it, especially a newscaster.

But that's what Jenkins' catch, captured by Greenboro, N.C., sports anchor Alex Walker, did. Even the mighty ESPN got a hold of it.

Jenkins is off to a nice start this season after an injury-plagued 2017. Now 21, the 2015 second-round pick needed to start hitting and has. Speed will always be his calling card.

But it could get crowded in the Down East outfield in a few weeks. Leody Taveras is already there, and there is a chance he could be promoted to Double A Frisco later in the season.

Julio Pablo Martinez could open his stateside career at Down East once he gets in baseball shape. The Cuban prospect, like Taveras, is another center fielder. Bubba Thompson, the 2017 first-rounder, was just promoted to Low A Hickory, but Down East isn't out of the question later this season.

Jenkins has played a lot of center in his career, too, but was in left field Sunday.

He has a lot of competition facing him, in other words, not to mention the Rangers' curse with their second-round picks. But for a day, for 30 viral seconds on a video, he looked pretty good.

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