Tim Lincecum “open to changes”, including a future as a reliever

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In an exclusive with CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly, Giants starter Tim Lincecum says that although he is presently committed to starting so long as his team needs him — and with an injured Ryan Vogelsong and struggling Matt Cain, they do — he is open to converting fully as a reliever in the future. Lincecum currently has a 5.12 ERA in 11 starts, continuing the struggles that led to a 5.18 ERA over 33 starts last year. The Giants used him out of the bullpen in five of his six post-season appearances, however, and the right-hander allowed one run in 13 innings.

Lincecum spoke to the differences between starting and relieving:

“Out of the bullpen, your focus is different,” Lincecum said. “You’re not thinking about lasting. It’s, `Go until they tell you to stop.’ When you’re starting, when you see your pitch count go up in a bad inning, that can be at the forefront of your brain. You know it’s going to (limit how deep you can go). So I guess you could say it’s a lack of pressing, when you’re relieving.”

Lincecum is eligible for free agency after the season. Considering his recent adversity as a starter, you have to imagine potential suitors are viewing him more as a reliever than as a starter if they are even considering signing him at all.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.