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."