DETROIT — From his viewpoint on the sidelines, reliever Matt Lindstrom has seen a largely inexperienced White Sox bullpen take its lumps.
For the guy who was supposed to take the lead as the closer, it has been tough to watch.
“It’s been frustrating for me,’’ Lindstrom said Tuesday. “To get another chance to close at the start of the season, I was very excited. I wanted to take that job and run with it.’’
Lindstrom, 34, who had saved 45 games in his career, was OK in the role with six saves and a 3.32 ERA, but he never had a chance to settle in after suffering an ankle injury in Kansas City on May 19 that would require surgery. He has targeted a return for the series in Seattle that opens Aug. 7.
Without Addison Reed (traded), Nate Jones (injured) and Lindstrom, the bullpen had lumped
together a 3.83 ERA, which ranked 11th in the American League. The pen also ranked near the bottom in saves (12th, 23), save percentage (14th, 62.2 percent), walks (first, 167) and strikeouts (last, 251).
The only possible good thing to glean from any of that is experience gained that could pay off down the road.
“The guys down there are making strides, learning on the job,’’ Lindstrom said, “getting to know how to pitch to major-league hitters. Especially late in the game, you have to come in there with your ‘A’ stuff. You can’t [take your time to] get comfortable on the mound or groove in your stuff or be missing all the time. You have to be spot-on coming out of the bullpen.’’
After throwing in a simulated game against Avisail Garcia at
Comerica Park, Lindstrom is waiting for word on when to
make his rehab assignment at Class AAA Charlotte.
“I felt probably the best I’ve felt in a long time with my arm, being loose and fluid, my mechanics, all my pitches,’’ Lindstrom said. “It was nice. I’m good.’’
Jake Petricka, who is holding down the closer’s job right now, went into the season with 16 games worth of experience. Zach Putnam had 15, Andre Rienzo had 10, Daniel Webb nine and Eric Surkamp five.
“The ups and downs the guys have had, it’s going to help them in the long run,’’ Lindstrom said. “You go through [rough] stretches. You don’t make mistakes twice, and you also get to know hitters, that game of chess they play.’’
The Sox picked up the option on Lindstrom’s contract after he had a 3.12 ERA over a career-high 76
relief appearances last year. If Lindstrom finishes strong, it’s not out of the question that the Sox
offer him a deal to return.
“I hope so,’’ he said. “I’d really like to come back here. If they want me back in the pen and another year works out, I’d be open to that. But I have one goal in mind now, and that’s to finish strong.’’
NOTE: First-round draft choice Carlos Rodon will be activated at Class A Winston-Salem on Wednesday. Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick, made two appearances in the Arizona League. He will pitch in relief.