Excited Lincecum joins Angels

Excited Lincecum joins Angels

OAKLAND -- Veteran right-hander Tim Lincecum strode into the visitors clubhouse at the Coliseum on Friday afternoon donning a white backwards baseball cap and a smile, joining his new Angels teammates after spending the spring without a baseball home and enduring a lengthy rehab process from hip surgery.

It wasn't long before the former Giants star was wearing Angels red, which looked odd at first glance. But the righty acknowledged he's returning to a familiar role in a somewhat familiar place on Saturday when he makes his debut against the A's. As far as a new league and a new team? He'll get used to that, too.

"I think there's a lot of comfort in that," Lincecum said. "I know I'm going to have a lot of people here who support me in the Bay Area. So I'll be lucky in that regard."

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"I know there's going to be some emotions he's going to deal with," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think it'll be excitement more than anything. I think he's very confident that his stuff is at a level that he can go out there and compete."

Lincecum, 32, hasn't started in the Majors since last June and underwent hip surgery in September. He rehabbed throughout the winter, threw a showcase for more than 20 teams in Arizona in early May and signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal last month with the Angels -- an ideal landing spot for the West Coast native seeking a starting role.

"It definitely does feel like it's been a long time," Lincecum said. "It was harder, especially when Spring Training started and I wasn't with a team. Watching guys play kind of pushed the envelope a little more for me to get ready."

The righty posted a 2.65 ERA in three rehab starts with Triple-A Salt Lake, including a one-hit shutout over seven innings on Sunday. His mantra was one of confidence, especially following his final rehab start. He said he was initially "apprehensive" after surgery, but he has more range in his left hip than he did before the injury and can use his offspeed pitches, including his signature changeup, in any situation.

Lincecum also found it helpful to work on situational pitching in the Minors. He's trusting his fastball, even if he doesn't have the same velocity he displayed when he won two National League Cy Young Awards with the Giants.

"I'm not going to be the guy throwing 93, 94, 95 [mph] anymore," he said. "I have to spot my fastball and trust the movement. I think that's where I'm at, trusting I can get outs with 88-92."

Lincecum isn't on a pitch-count limit Saturday. The righty met with Scioscia upon arriving and then joined a team meeting. He said he doesn't know many of his teammates, but fellow starting pitcher Jered Weaver texted him prior to his arrival to welcome him, which "knocked the first door open."

"It was really big," Lincecum said of Weaver's gesture. "Obviously I didn't know too many people coming over to the Angels. For a guy who has been a staple of an organization for so long to reach out to a guy like me is big. From what I understand, he's a good dude, and I just want to get to know these guys a lot better. That will come in time." 

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in Oakland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.