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Bruce Bochy supports Tim Lincecum returning as a reliever

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Tim Lincecum is returning to the major leagues to be a reliever for the Texas Rangers. His former manager thinks that role will suit him well. (Courtesy dwighta3/Flickr)

Three-time World Series champion and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum is back in baseball, signing a deal with the Texas Rangers, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The longtime San Francisco Giants starter is expected to slot into the Rangers’ bullpen — potentially even the closer’s role.

Lincecum’s former boss, Giants manager Bruce Bochy, thinks the right-hander will take to relieving, even if 270 of his 278 MLB appearances have come as starts.

“I think Timmy would be good at it, I do,” manager Bruce Bochy said, per Alex Pavlovich of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s so resilient and he gives you multiple innings and he can face lefties or righties. I think that would be a role that fits him, too. He’s got that versatility. I know it doesn’t take him long to warm up because I’ve seen it.”

Lincecum last pitched in the majors leagues in 2016, stumbling through a forgettable run with the Los Angeles Angels.

Lincecum produced an alarming stat line, lugging around a 9.16 ERA in nine starts and allowing 68 hits — including 11 home runs — and 23 walks in 38.1 innings. The Angels designated Lincecum for assignment in the first week of August.

The move to Texas comes as minor relief for supporters of the orange and black. Along with the Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers were among Lincecum’s most sincere suitors.

Local fans won’t have to wait long to see Lincecum back in the Bay Area, as the Rangers visit the Oakland A’s for the second series of the season, a four-game set that begins on April 2.

The Rangers travel to AT&T Park on Aug. 24, facing the Giants for a three-game series.

While Lincecum returns, another ex-Giant starter mounts a comeback. Chris Heston, who authored a no-hitter in 2015 before tumbling into obscurity, is back on the rise. Officially a member of the Giants’ minor league camp in Mesa, Ariz., Heston has already made a pair of Cactus League appearances, collecting the win on Tuesday after pitching a scoreless ninth in the 14-12 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Since 2015, Heston has been traded, claimed off waivers twice, slowed by a shoulder impingement and made a grand total of seven major league appearances.

Amid his winding road, Heston has leaned on Ryan Vogelsong for support. No one knows the peaks and valleys of professional baseball like Vogelsong who went from top prospect to Japan and back to the Giants, ultimately emerging as a franchise folk hero and two-time World Series champ. Heston is thrilled to be back with his first major league club.

“With the year I had last year, the ups and downs, I felt getting back somewhere where they knew me and I was comfortable would help out with my confidence going into the season,” Heston told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

With the Giants’ bullpen already crowded with more established names, Heston is on track to open 2018 in Triple-A.

“I’m about baby steps right now,” Heston said. “[It’s] getting my foot back in the door and giving them an option down the road.”

kbuscheck@sfexaminer.com

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