For the last nine months, Tim Lincecum has been in Arizona, splitting time between four different places, and Friday afternoon, he found out his new place in baseball. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is now officially a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
Lincecum, 31, will be spending quite a few more days in Arizona despite the new Major League deal he signed, as he consented to be optioned from the Major League roster, and spend time building up his arm in rehab starts, the first coming Monday in Tempe, Arizona, where he'll throw 75-100 pitches to minor leagues in a simulated game.
"This process has been long, and to sign a contract with the Angels meant the world to me," said Lincecum over a conference call.
After nine-Major League seasons, Lincecum is now moving on to a new team for the first time in his career. His tenure with the San Francisco Giants consisted of two Cy Young Awards, two no-hitters, a 3.61 ERA and three World Series rings. He openly expressed he was given the opportunity to return, but the expectations just didn't like in.
"It is tough because I've had a lot of emotions and time and relationships that I've built up over the course of my career with them. At this point I'm just trying to make that decision for myself."
Part of that decision was staying in a Major League rotation as opposed to heading towards the bullpen, which became something the Angels could offer due to injuries to the top of their rotation. The team couldn't be more excited not to add pitching depth, but also, add a player with star talent in his past.
"We're very excited for this moment to bring someone of [Lincecum's] stature, with his resume to this organization and to help fulfill our championship standards and expectations here," said Angels GM, Billy Eppler.
A handful of teams expressed interest in Lincecum following his showcase in recent weeks, but with the addition of a chance to start, there was many items on Lincecum's check list that led him to signing with the Halos.
"I've had a knack for being a West Coast guy, and I've always had curiosity about the Angels," said Lincecum, a native to Bellevue, Washington, who saw the Angels play Seattle as a child. "They were in my sites as a young kid and they're a West Coast team."
Now, Lincecum is past his days as a Cy Young winner, with his second team, and still, sitting in Arizona. He'll pitch his simulated game, and then go out to an affiliate for three to five starts over the course of 20-30 days, and then likely join the Angels, wherever they are. Lincecum had to consent to be optioned due to his five-year service time, an easy decision for the former star.
Lincecum believes he's "night-and-day" from where he was the past two years, due to better health. He has better stability and strength, which will allow him to drive with his lower half with ease, give him better rotation and give him freedom of motion to complete his delivery. The office will monitor his return and health, and will primarily rely on Lincecum for how his body is reacting.
"We're relying a lot on the player," Eppler said. "He'll tell us what he needs, he'll tell us when he's ready because he's earned that. He's shown that level of feel for what his body needs and what his body has gone through. He'll know those things."
So how much of that former star will the Angels be able to receive for their well spent dollars? The health may have taken it's impact, but the best days are behind Lincecum. His velocity is down from the mid 90's on average to high 80's. He has an ERA of 4.68 over the last four seasons. Is this risk worth it?
"Time will tell," said Eppler with a grin. "In a lot of situations, you're looking to reclaim something. When we talk about that, we talk about that with star level players. Whether it's a pitcher or position player, guys that have had that level of impact, you're trying to reclaim some of that. Are you gonna capture 100%? Most likely not. Are you gonna capture 70-80%? 90%? Time will tell ultimately what you're able to reclaim."
Lincecum's new manager, Mike Scioscia, also sees plenty to desire in his new pitcher. Primarily, a passion for competition and desire to win, even one of best competitors ever.
"Tim is an outstanding pitcher," said Scioscia. "One of the most competitive pitchers that I think that has ever taken the mound. I think that will go a long way and off-set some of the velocity changes that have happened over the last four or five years. He still has plenty of fastball, his off-speed pitches are still terrific. When you put that all together, he's going to go out there and give us chances to win games."
So here it is. "The Freak" wearing an Angel uniform. Wack-A-Doo hair styles, mustaches, Mitch Kramer, "Electric Feel."
"I'm anxious and I'm excited," said Lincecum. "A little nervous because it's a process ive never been through - being with a new team - coming off surgery, but I'm excited to say the least because I've put a lot of time and work into what I've been doing in this craft. I'm pumped to see what I can do out there on the field."
Tim Lincecum, an Angel. Do what you feel now. Electric feel now.