Matt Lindstrom could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as next week, offering the White Sox a shot at a more stable bullpen by the end of July or early August.
The 34-year-old Lindstrom was placed on the disabled list May 20 after he injured his left ankle fielding a bunt in Kansas City. He's scheduled to throw live batting practice to Avisail Garcia in Minnesota later this week, and hopes to go on a rehab assignment after that test.
Lindstrom threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday and was pleased with the results, too.
"It’s been a long time," Lindstrom said. "It seems like I have been away longer than two months. For me, I just want to play so that’s the main thing."
If all goes well, Lindstrom hopes to only need one or two games on his rehab stint before he's ready to re-join the White Sox. Manager Robin Ventura said he hasn't thought about whether or not Lindstrom would resume his closing duties upon his return.
For now, Ventura said Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam — who combined to hold off the Astros in the ninth on Saturday — are the guys he'll use to close out games. Petricka started the ninth but was pulled with two outs and runners on first and second for Putnam, who Ventura thought was better-equipped to retire Astros catcher Jason Castro.
Putnam struck out Castro to net the White Sox a 4-3 win.
"You don't really have that clear-cut closer, so to speak," Ventura said. "Unfortunately I don't have a guy that you're just going to leave out there, saying that's your closer."
Lindstrom could be that defined closer should Ventura decide to go that route when he's back with the club. But as long as Lindstrom remains on the disabled list, Ventura has license to do what he did Saturday in giving Putnam a one-out save.
Putnam, too, said not having a defined role wasn't too big a deal.
"It’s interesting and there’s definitely an element of fun to it," Putnam said. "We don’t know from game to game who is going to have that ninth if it’s a save opportunity. I have no doubt that (Petricka) could have closed that out no problem. But Robin and Coop wanted to try something different and I’m happy they gave me the opportunity."