Texas Rangers

Rangers' experiment with Lincecum ends without a single pitch

The Rangers signed Tim Lincecum to a $1 million major-league deal in early March, but released him Tuesday.
The Rangers signed Tim Lincecum to a $1 million major-league deal in early March, but released him Tuesday. Round Rock Express file

At various times in late February and early March, Tim Lincecum was going to the Texas Rangers' closer this season.

Or he was going to pitch multiple innings to get the game to the closer. Or he was going to be the man out of the bullpen in the eighth inning.

The thought that he would never throw a pitch for the Rangers was, well, an afterthought.

This was going to happen.

Now, it won't.

The Lincecum experiment ended Tuesday without the former Cy Young winner ever throwing a pitch for the Rangers.

The former San Francisco Giants star was granted his outright release Tuesday after a 30-day rehab assignment with Triple A Round Rock in which he never showed the velocity or command needed to pitch in the major leagues.

"Despite best intentions and hard work, we didn't feel like it was the best move to bring him up right now," general manager Jon Daniels said. "We are of the mind-set that he wasn't going to be an upgrade on our relievers now."

Lincecum finished his rehab assignment with a 1-1 record and a 5.68 ERA over 12 2/3 innings over 10 appearances. The right-hander didn't allow an earned run in his final three games, but opponents batted .280 against him and he walked nine while striking out only 10.

"He understood," Daniels said. "He was very appreciative of the opportunity."

The Rangers had four options with Lincecum, who was on the 60-day disabled list: put him on the 40-man and 25-man rosters, put him on the 40-man and option him to the minors, assign him outright to the minors, or release him.

The bullpen has posted a 0.85 ERA the past 11 games, and no reliever deserves to lose his roster spot. The Rangers will need a 40-man spot next week for shortstop Elvis Andrus. Lincecum said that he wasn't interested continuing to pitch in the minors.

That left one option.

"Ultimately, this was the best," Daniels said. "This is the cleanest."

The Rangers were one of two teams to offer Lincecum, who didn't pitch in 2017, an MLB contract after watching him at a tryout in Seattle, and they signed him March 6 for $1 million about 10 days after they reached agreement with him.

His signing and arrival to spring training were delayed as he and his family dealt with the death of his old brother. The National League Cy Young winner in 2008 and 2009, Lincecum worked for about two weeks before a blister developed on his middle finger.

The Rangers placed Lincecum on the 10-day disabled list to open the season but moved him to the 60-day DL to open a roster spot after claiming infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez.

Lincecum was finally ready to pitch in games May 7, when he allowed two runs on a hit and a walk for Round Rock. He allowed at least one run in six of his 10 appearances.

It wasn't good enough to get major-league hitters out.

"We took a calculated risk there in spring training based on what we had seen," Daniels said. "We knew that there was a variety of outcomes, and it didn't play out."

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