White Sox think Lindstrom is a perfect fit

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White Sox think Lindstrom is a perfect fit

The White Sox finalized a one-year, 2.8 million contract with reliever Matt Lindstrom Friday, adding another piece to a bullpen the team hopes will be a major strength in 2013.

There was plenty of mutual interest between Lindstrom and the White Sox, as general manager Rick Hahn sought a power arm who had the ability to keep the ball on the ground. The 32-year-old has only allowed 18 home runs in 326 career innings -- an average of one home run served up per 18 innings over seven seasons. That's important for a team that plays half its games at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.

"He fits nicely for the ballpark," Hahn said. "He keeps the ball on the ground, he has a power-type arm where he's able to get a strikeout when needed. So it was a good fit for us. And talking to (pitching coach Don Cooper) and our scouts, there's even a little bit of upside there given how strong the arm is."

Lindstrom has had his eye on the White Sox for a while, too. The right-hander, who posted a 2.68 ERA between Arizona and Baltimore in 2012, said he frequently bugged his agent to inquire about the White Sox this winter.

"Every time he mentioned some other team in the loop for my services, I would ask him 'well where are these guys at,'" Lindstrom explained. "So we kinda did it quickly down the stretch, I was excited about that. Now I don't have to face guys like (Alex) Rios and (Adam) Dunn anymore, and Paul (Konerko). So I'm looking forward to not having to do that either.

Lindstrom will join a bullpen headlined by Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Nate Jones, giving manager Robin Ventura plenty of late-inning depth. Ventura said he envisions Lindstrom filling the role Brett Myers -- who signed with Cleveland earlier this month -- had last season, pitching mainly in the seventh and eighth innings but also able to slide in if Reed needs a day off in the ninth.

All those pitchers had an average fastball velocity over 93 miles per hour in 2012, and the hope is the depth Lindstrom adds will help keep everyone fresh for the 2013 season.

"The great part about it is (Ventura) has those options down there now," Lindstrom said. "He could use any one of us late in a game from the sixth inning on. He can mix and match lefty and righty, whatever, because we have the ability to get both those hitters out."

While Lindstrom's velocity dipped in 2012 -- he went from averaging over 95.7 miles per hour on his fastball from 2007-2011 to 94.8 miles per hour last season -- Hahn chalked that up to an improved two-seam fastball, the sink on which helped Lindstrom generate plenty of ground balls. It's no surprise, then, that Lindstrom's 50.7 percent ground ball rate was the highest of his career in 2012.

For the White Sox, Lindstrom is another piece to the puzzle, one that'll keep the team competitive in the American League.

"You need an elite pitching staff to survive in the American League and to survive in our ballpark," Hahn said, "and we feel weve put that together, that one through 12 can compete with anybody."

Robin Ventura praises ex-teammate David Ross after night of ovations

Robin Ventura praises ex-teammate David Ross after night of ovations

On June 25, 2004, Robin Ventura took the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth inning of a 13-0 loss to the then Anaheim Angels.

It was Ventura’s lone pitching appearance in his big league career, one that ended that season after 16 years.

And who was behind the plate? Current Cubs catcher David Ross, who’s in the final season of his own lengthy major league career and who experienced quite the moment on Sunday night. In the Cubs’ final regular-season home game, a packed Wrigley Field stood in recognition of the backup catcher and his career ahead of each of his three plate appearances — the second of which ended in a solo home run — and then again when manager Joe Maddon lifted him from the game in the seventh inning.

The roaring ovations were unusual for a backup catcher who’s batting .233 (after hitting just .176 last season on the North Side), but according to Ventura — a teammate of Ross’ in L.A. in 2003 and 2004 — they were absolutely deserved.

“It’s great. Anything he gets I think is great,” Ventura said. “Not often do you see a backup catcher with such a response. But he’s a different guy, and he’s earned that. They wouldn’t do that if he didn’t deserve it. Inside their clubhouse, that’s probably where it comes from, and then it exudes outside, spills over outside of that. I’m sure I’ll talk to him in the offseason.”

Ross hasn’t received a city-by-city sendoff the likes of which Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, David Ortiz and even White Sox legend Paul Konerko have received in recent years. But he sure has enjoyed his final season in the big leagues. And he might enjoy it further as the Cubs have the best record in baseball and World Series expectations.

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Ventura had his own final season in the bigs a dozen years ago, and he was the manager during Konerko’s final year in 2014.

“I know a little bit of what he’s going through. But when a guy is at the end and he knows he’s at the end, you can have a little more fun,” Ventura said. “Paulie had some of that his last year where you can exert some energy elsewhere. And it’s still fun, and you spread it around the clubhouse a little bit more than you do just as a player.”

It might be difficult for fans who haven’t closely followed the Cubs over the past two seasons to figure out why Ross has become so beloved. But as Ross’ former teammate, Ventura understands.

“Numbers-wise, he’s not going to jump out off the page to you. But the guys that play in there understand what he brings to it,” Ventura said. “It’s hard to sit there and for people to understand that, as grueling as the season is and the personalities are in that clubhouse. But when you’re talking about a guy that’s played as long as he has, been on some winning teams and continues to bring the enjoyment and really the boyish stuff that he brings. And that’s part of his charm is there’s still a kid in there, even at 40 — what is he? — he looks like 48. There’s a kid in there, and that comes out when you see him or you’re around him.”

So back to that pitching appearance. Ventura fared just fine, giving up just one hit in a scoreless ninth inning. Ross must’ve been calling a good game, right?

“He never put down a signal,” Ventura said. “I didn’t throw hard enough for him to put down a signal.”

Adam Eaton still out of White Sox lineup, recuperating from crash into wall

Adam Eaton still out of White Sox lineup, recuperating from crash into wall

Out of the White Sox lineup the last two days after he crashed into a wall in Cleveland, Adam Eaton remained sidelined Monday, with manager Robin Ventura saying the outfielder needs more time to recuperate.

Of course, Eaton being the kind of player who crashes into walls to make catches, he wants back out on the field in the season’s final week.

“Feeling good,” Eaton reported to reporters ahead of Monday’s series-opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. “I hope to be in there tomorrow. I'm going to test the body parts today. Individually, I want to play until the end and finish strong. That's kind of my outlook as of right now.”

Eaton assumed he was held out of the lineup for the first of the four-game set on the South Side due to Monday’s pitching matchup. Ventura made it pretty clear, though, that that wasn’t the case.

“Yeah, he doesn’t feel that good,” Ventura said when informed of Eaton’s self-assessment. “He’s always going to tell you he feels good. Even if he’s getting better, tomorrow’s going to be a better day for him.

“He’s not playing because he’s physically still banged-up. He will be here, but he’s not going to play today. He’s still recuperating and getting better. But in talking to (trainer Herm Schneider), it’s just best that he doesn’t play today.”

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Eaton needed to be helped off the field by Schneider and teammate Carlos Sanchez on Friday after he made a catch on a deep fly ball off the bat of Roberto Perez and then crashed into the center-field wall at Progressive Field. Getting the wind knocked out of him, Eaton took and passed concussion tests, perhaps preventing a shutdown for the remainder of the season. But he’ll sit out his third straight game Monday.

Despite the concern over a possible concussion, Eaton said the most-affected body part was his hip.

“Biggest thing was my hip, to be honest,” he said. “I think that's what hit first and then kind of a whiplash. I hate to continue referring to a car accident but just kind of a jolt. Taking inventory and making sure everything's aligned again. The doctors there in Cleveland were great. They came over and did all the concussion protocol, making sure I didn't get any dumber, which I'm sure I did. I guess realigning some things and making sure all the body parts are functioning correctly.

“Feel much better today, every day's been getting better. We're going to test some parts out today and if all goes well, my hope is to be in there tomorrow. Hopefully I didn't get Wally Pipp’d and get replaced. I hope I can squeeze back in there.”

Taking a positive out of things, Eaton said he’s happy the crash illustrated the way he hopes to play the game, full go on every play, and that kids might see the catch and want to play the same way.

“As I’ve said the last couple days, it’s how I play and I'm proud to play that way. I've been brought up since I was a little kid to play hard. I hope a little kid at home sees it, that it is cool to make a catch for your team and take a double away, and they want to do that. Of course not getting hurt by any stretch of the imagination. But I was always that kid trying to rob people and taking two extra steps to make a diving play as a 12-year-old or 13-year-old. It’s fun to do it, but you pay the price for it of course.”

The catch might’ve looked pretty cool on the highlight shows. But Eaton wanted to make one thing clear.

“One of my buddies in Michigan said it looked epic,” Eaton said. “I told him it didn't feel epic.”