Angels designate Lincecum for assignment

Angels designate Lincecum for assignment

SEATTLE -- The Angels designated Tim Lincecum for assignment on Saturday, one day after the two-time Cy Young Award winner gave up six runs in the first inning of an eventual 6-4 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Lincecum -- signed to a pro-rated, incentive-laden $2.25 million contract at the end of May -- has a 9.16 ERA in his first nine starts since coming off major hip surgery. The Angels are hopeful that the 32-year-old right-hander will accept an outright to the Minor Leagues once he clears waivers, which would give him more time to get right while preserving some of the Angels' shallow starting-pitching depth.

"Where Tim is now, and where he needs to be, there's a gap there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's very clear."

Hard-throwing relief pitcher Jose Valdez, who was pitching well at Triple-A Salt Lake, was called up to fill Lincecum's spot on the roster. Scioscia would not say who would take Lincecum's spot in the rotation, but Jhoulys Chacin, who has been serving as a long reliever since the start of July, seems to be the most logical option.

Lincecum pitched six innings of one-run ball in his debut in Oakland on June 18, but since hasn't completed six innings in eight consecutive starts and has been charged with at least five runs in five of those outings. Over his last three starts, Lincecum gave up 18 runs on 21 hits and 10 walks in 9 2/3 innings, striking out four.

"He's regressed a little bit," Scioscia said. "It's a matter of understanding his mechanics, getting his release point more consistent. That's really impossible to work out at the Major League level. … In order to get Tim to be that finished product of where we feel he can come up here and be a winning pitcher in the Major Leagues, it's going to take some work. We hope he'll go to Triple-A and work on it and see how it progresses."

The Angels continued to give Lincecum opportunities largely because they were devoid of alternative options, but the last straw came Friday night, when the four-time All-Star pitched about a 15-minute drive away from his hometown of Renton, Wash.

Lincecum took the mound in the bottom of the first with a three-run lead, then gave up four straight singles, to Norichika Aoki, Seth Smith, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. Two batters later, Adam Lind added another single, and Leonys Martin followed with a sacrifice fly. And then Mike Zunino hit a three-run homer, on a 3-2, 83 mph changeup that was located down in the zone.

Lincecum allowed five of the next 12 batters to reach base, but didn't allow any other runs in a 3 1/3-inning outing.

Afterwards, Lincecum believed he was nonetheless heading "in the direction I need to go."

But the process ahead of him remains daunting.

"I don't want to be patient," Lincecum said late Friday night, "but obviously it's something I've had to grasp because of the way things have gone and the way this has progressed and the way I'm going after it. I'm not going out there just throwing bullpens against nobody. I'm still trying to get outs in the [American League] West, against good hitters. It just goes back to throwing quality strikes. I'm not doing it on a consistent basis to help myself out enough."

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.