White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom doesn’t like to see bullpen struggle
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media June 30, 2014 11:04PM
Updated: August 2, 2014 6:31AM
Reliever Matt Lindstrom has had to watch the struggles. He has seen the leads vanish, the late-game frustration, the shuffling of roles and the general struggles of a unit he was supposed to anchor.
It hasn’t been easy.
“Anytime you have to go through something like that in the middle of a season, it’s tough,’’ Lindstrom said before the Angels-White Sox game was rained out Monday. ‘‘Guys are being asked to do things that they’ve never really done before.’’
The teams will play a doubleheader Tuesday starting at 4:10 p.m., with Hector Noesi facing Garrett Richards before Scott Carroll opposes Jered Weaver.
Lindstrom has been on the disabled list since May 20 with a torn tendon sheath in his left ankle. He said he could see himself going on a minor-league rehab assignment in a month or so. One of his biggest concerns is his movement after delivering.
The Sox’ bullpen as a whole has been a concern. As Lindstrom alluded to, pitchers have been forced into roles they weren’t expecting to handle. After Lindstrom’s injury, Ronald Belisario was forced into a closer’s role that he went on to lose after converting only eight saves in 12 tries with a 5.54 ERA. So everyone was pushed up a spot in a bullpen that has been battling most of the season with Nate Jones out.
“You also can look at the bright side down the road,’’ Lindstrom said. ‘‘Guys in this bullpen, they will have a ton of experience in these later-inning roles as we go forward. It’s not going to be a surprise to them. You have to learn sometime. It’s good for them.”
That might be, but the results haven’t been what the Sox hoped for. Entering play Monday, their bullpen was tied for 11th in the American League with 18 saves and was 11th in save percentage at 64.3 percent. Those numbers won’t be helped by the Sox’ current situation, which has seen them go from Belisario to a closer-by-committee approach.
“It’s changed; you don’t necessarily have a guy that you know is going in for the ninth,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You start the game probably with an idea of who you’d like to use that night, but the bullpen, the way it is right now, we’re going by usage, matchups and just the feeling of who you want in there at that time.
“There might be more moves. There might be fewer moves. You don’t really know on a daily basis who you’re going to use in which spots.”
Lindstrom is looking forward to being in that spot. Before going down, Lindstrom was 6-for-9 in save chances with a 3.32 ERA.
“You are the last man standing at the end of the game,’’ Lindstrom said.
‘‘Your team has been busting its butt all game to try to pull out a win and has done its part. Now it’s your turn to do yours. It falls on your shoulders. It’s the nature of the role. It’s very volatile. That’s why we like it. That’s why there’s so much pressure.”