On the eve of Tim Lincecum's showcase in Arizona for the many teams interested in the right-handed pitcher, I wonder if this might be the ‘Jon Daniels surprise signing’ Texas Rangers fans have been waiting for. Most people have written-off Lincecum, which is not too surprising considering his struggles since 2012.
Most recently though, he landed on the disabled list - a career first - after being hit by a line drive off his right elbow this past June. In July, Lincecum was diagnosed with a degenerative condition in both hips and ultimately underwent surgery in September. According to the San Francisco Giants “...the surgery involved repairing a torn labrum and shaving down bone to treat an impingement.”
Lincecum’s father Chris spoke with Bay Area sports radio KNBR.com and said,
...Tim last met with his surgeon Dr. Marc Philippon, a noted hip specialist, on Dec. 17 and was told his hip was “perfect” and that he was three weeks ahead of schedule.”
This is definitely good news for Lincecum but, now, the tricky part is to show teams he’s ready for the big league again.
I’m not sure how many teams are going to want to sign him to a major league contract after just one showcase. Despite this, I’m not sure how open Lincecum is to sign a minor league contract but, this is where I think JD and the Rangers have an advantage over other clubs, assuming the Giants are completely out.
The Texas Rangers have experience with this type of delicate situation - Colby Lewis. It wasn’t too long ago Lewis was plagued by injuries and was forced to miss just under two complete seasons.
In 2012, the right-hander underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, then in 2013 Lewis underwent right hip resurfacing surgery to remove bone spurs in his hip. In 2014, unsure how the then-34-year old would fair, the Rangers signed him to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Even though Lewis didn’t break camp with the club he was called up shortly after the season begun, and the Rangers haven’t looked back since.
Although the Rangers will not start the season lacking talent, many have voiced concerns about the depth of the rotation. Tim Lincecum could be the right player for the back of the rotation as he hones his new pitch delivery, and he could even eat some innings out of the bullpen.
Before that happens, my thought is this:
The Rangers sign the 31-year-old to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Lincecum accepts. While at camp, 35-year-old Colby Lewis takes Tim under his wing, helping him not only adjust to the physical changes but also the mental aspect, too. If there is any pitcher on this planet that can understand what Tim has and is going through, it’s Lewis. Meaning, Colby could really help him through the ups and downs he will surely go through during camp. I imagine, as a player, that kind of support and guidance is priceless.
On Wednesday, if the Rangers see the slightest hint of a future for Lincecum I’m hopeful they can persuade him to take the same route as Lewis. This could be extremely beneficial for both parties. Texas would be signing a two-time Cy Young winner at a minimal cost-to-risk ratio while Lincecum would be getting another chance to prove his career is not over.