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Lindstrom opening eyes in camp

Fish4Life

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Notes: Lindstrom opening eyes in camp
Hoping to win spot in 'pen, righty is also in line for closer's job
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Only time will tell if Matt Lindstrom wins a roster spot or emerges as the Marlins closer. However, he does have one distinction among all the pitchers in camp.

The right-hander is the hardest thrower among the group. Playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League this offseason, his fastball was clocked at 102 mph.

An expression that has been tossed about in camp is: Lindstrom can throw a marshmallow through a battleship.

The 27-year-old was acquired from the Mets in November. The deal brought Lindstrom and reliever Henry Owens to Florida for pitchers Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick.

"I'm really enjoying it," said Lindstrom of now having a chance to win a spot in the back end of the bullpen. "There are a lot of young guys here, and a lot of good arms here. It should be nice to see if I can make the team. I don't care if it's as a sixth, seventh or eighth-inning guy. If it's the closer role, that's fine, too. Whatever they decide."

Hampered by a stress fracture a few years ago, Lindstrom credits his rehabiliation with the Mets.

"It's really attributed to what the Mets did for me after I had a stress fracture," he said. "I saw a physical therapist and I got stronger. I started throwing harder."

Before experiencing the stress fracture in '05, Lindstrom was throwing 95-98 mph. The righty said that he had velocity but lacked command, meaning the ball would go all over the place.

"Last year, I maintained my velocity every time I went out," he said. "I was throwing 97-100 every time out. Now I can drive the ball down in the zone."

Lindstrom's second pitch is a slider, which is clocked between 85-88 mph. He's developing a split-finger pitch, which he calls a "slurve." It reacts like a sinker at 87-88 mph.

Lindstrom says he is confident throwing his slider, because he was taught a different grip by a pitching instructor he worked with in Puerto Rico. Lindstrom doesn't know the full name of the instructor, who is known as "Mambo."

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez liked what he saw from a number of pitchers on Monday.

Some pitchers who caught his attention were Gaby Hernandez, Sean West, Chris Volstad and Lindstrom.

"One hundred miles per hour," Gonzalez said of Lindstrom. "You don't see that very often. [The Mets']Billy Wagner comes to mind. The thing I was impressed with today is he has a big power arm, but his command was real good."

The early front-runners to close are Lindstrom, Kevin Gregg, Taylor Tankersley and Owens.
 

Juanky

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I can see him closing at one point, and I wouldn't mind if it was this year.
 

TSwift25

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I know this is going to be unpopular, but the obsession with speed really just angers me.

1) Speed on the base paths leads to the over valuation of guys like Pierre, who simply because they are fleet of foot are given more than reasonable chances to succeed in the face of obvious short comings in other aspects of the game.

2) Speed (or velocity) on the radar gun means one pitch pitchers keep getting looks and looks for the back end of the bullpen. Now before someone comes banging the drums on me, yes, I realize that the closers role is overrated, I really do. I hate the concept of specialized bullpens, I'd rather see the best guy out there in the 7th or 8th inning with 1 out and the bases loaded in a one run game than in the 9th inning with no one out and no one on in a 3 run game. Period. However, to win and be legitimately successful, a bullpen really needs no fewer than three "reliable" guys. And those "reliable" guys see more action than the other 3 guys in the 'pen. Now, just because Lindstrom can throw 100 doesn't mean he's untouchable...doesn't mean he's more effective than a guy who throws 92 and doesn't mean that he can survive on one pitch. Much like many bellyached over Pierre being allowed to remain in the leadoff spot, I'm already going to start voicing my displeasure over a 100 MPH fastball allowing a guy to completely bypass the bullpen spot "earning" process and be considered for a key role based solely on new wisdom that speed belongs only at the top of the order and the back of the bullpen.
 

Juanky

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The success in the closer's role depends on a mindset; not everyone can shut the door mentally. We've seen this in past years with people like Guillermo Mota and Octavio Dotel, who while they're extremely talented setup men they just couldn't get the final three outs consistently. While your best relief arm shouldn't be your closer because it isn't the most important time of the game, someone that comes in and just pumps up the gun as high as he can isn't a bad candidate for the spot. In fact, these types tend to be successful in the role.

Why waste Owens and Tank, who are better pitchers, when you can throw out a crowd pleasing flame thrower who will ring up the strikeouts and probably save 85-92% of the chances without a problem?
 

pierremvp1

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I know this is going to be unpopular, but the obsession with speed really just angers me.

1) Speed on the base paths leads to the over valuation of guys like Pierre, who simply because they are fleet of foot are given more than reasonable chances to succeed in the face of obvious short comings in other aspects of the game.

2) Speed (or velocity) on the radar gun means one pitch pitchers keep getting looks and looks for the back end of the bullpen. Now before someone comes banging the drums on me, yes, I realize that the closers role is overrated, I really do. I hate the concept of specialized bullpens, I'd rather see the best guy out there in the 7th or 8th inning with 1 out and the bases loaded in a one run game than in the 9th inning with no one out and no one on in a 3 run game. Period. However, to win and be legitimately successful, a bullpen really needs no fewer than three "reliable" guys. And those "reliable" guys see more action than the other 3 guys in the 'pen. Now, just because Lindstrom can throw 100 doesn't mean he's untouchable...doesn't mean he's more effective than a guy who throws 92 and doesn't mean that he can survive on one pitch. Much like many bellyached over Pierre being allowed to remain in the leadoff spot, I'm already going to start voicing my displeasure over a 100 MPH fastball allowing a guy to completely bypass the bullpen spot "earning" process and be considered for a key role based solely on new wisdom that speed belongs only at the top of the order and the back of the bullpen.
Swifty....I generally agree with your thoughts on pitching and the bullpen. I think you're jumping the radar gun though on Lindstrom. He hasn't even made the team yet, much less bypassing earning the closer role or being annointed as closer. Let's give it some time and see how things work out. I think we have some good pitching coaches, and a manager who's been exposed to some good pitching coaches. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt before even toying with the thought that he'll mismanage the pitching.
 

sgleason02

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I don't know if I like the way that Nolasco's name was left out of the closer competition. It could mean that JJ's arm really has them worried, and that they need Nolasco for the rotation.
 
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yes...lets wait & see.

If Lindstrom can maintain those speeds with good control, I'd rather he be pitching in the 9th inning. Tank is too good in his current role IMO to be moved. Besides all this, it's not as though our bullpen is loaded with experienced talent either. I mean who is he really "bypassing"? Randy Messenger? If Lindstrom is the best suited for the job in the opinion of the pitching coaches, he should be the closer. His K/BB ratio is nice (70/21 last year).

I don't know if I like the way that Nolasco's name was left out of the closer competition. It could mean that JJ's arm really has them worried, and that they need Nolasco for the rotation.
We need Nolasco in the rotation even if JJ is healthy. There is no one ready to take his rotation spot. Yes, Mitre is an option, but if and when that happens it should be out of necessity, not choice.
 

sgleason02

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I agree that Nolasco could still be useful in the rotation, I just thought it was strange that there had been so much talk about him and Tank being two of the top closer candidates, and here, after three days of ST, his name wasn't on the list. However, it could also be that Gregg, Owens, and Lindstrom all looked very sharp, and so they are confident enough that one of those four(including Tank) will be able to fill the closer's role.
 

Pnino

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The options the Marlins have for possible closers is very exciting. Many have questioned ownership's inability to bring an established closer from the outside, however, I feel very good entering the season with the options at hand. I am sure one of those players mentioned will step up and shine.
 

catchoftheday

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The options the Marlins have for possible closers is very exciting. Many have questioned ownership's inability to bring an established closer from the outside, however, I feel very good entering the season with the options at hand. I am sure one of those players mentioned will step up and shine.

good to know there is still some optimism out there


can't say the same thing on my behalf
 

isd71

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There are defiantly some bullpens spots out there esp with Boywer not being ready yet, and for a guy like Lindstrom all they need to do is show something in spring training games and they have a good chance at making the team, but its kinda of stretch right now to wright him in as the closer but you got a whole month of games to figure out who you want closing games.
 

Fishfan79

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Last year his fastball has been known to be straight and narrow. Which could be a problem if he doesnt keep developing some movement on it. No matter how fast it is, if it is straight as a board that is sorta a problem. If he can get movement on it though and keep good control of the slider I dont have a problem with him in the upper parts of the bullpen.
 

anotherrealfan

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Last year his fastball has been known to be straight and narrow. Which could be a problem if he doesnt keep developing some movement on it. No matter how fast it is, if it is straight as a board that is sorta a problem. If he can get movement on it though and keep good control of the slider I dont have a problem with him in the upper parts of the bullpen.

Exactly, the knock is that there is not enough movement. He also needs to get past his quote in the Herald today "If it [closer role] does happen, hopefully I can do the job but I am just concerned about making the team first". So, he is a long way from being annointed the closer.
 

Eddie Altamonte

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Last year his fastball has been known to be straight and narrow. Which could be a problem if he doesnt keep developing some movement on it. No matter how fast it is, if it is straight as a board that is sorta a problem. If he can get movement on it though and keep good control of the slider I dont have a problem with him in the upper parts of the bullpen.

Exactly, the knock is that there is not enough movement. He also needs to get past his quote in the Herald today "If it [closer role] does happen, hopefully I can do the job but I am just concerned about making the team first". So, he is a long way from being annointed the closer.
If he can develop a decent major league splitter, Lindstrom should become dominant. BTW He would bring back the days in DS when we use to count Ks in the 9th inning like we did for Rob Nen
 

Iowa

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We needed another name to step up in the pen.. hopefully this he's it. Now if one of the vets who came in can secure a spot
 
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I would rather see one of the younger guys develop (yes I know he's 27) into solid closer as I'd like to see as much of the bullpen filled by reliable young arms as possible. Would be much better IMO than getting another yearly rental. It would be another piece of the puzzle towards building a potential dynasty on good pitching if we can get a good bullpen filled with young arms that are far from FA.
 

Eddie Altamonte

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I would rather see one of the younger guys develop (yes I know he's 27) into solid closer as I'd like to see as much of the bullpen filled by reliable young arms as possible. Would be much better IMO than getting another yearly rental. It would be another piece of the puzzle towards building a potential dynasty on good pitching if we can get a good bullpen filled with young arms that are far from FA.
He does have a young arm... didn't he not pitch a couple of years because of being on a Mission or something? He is healthy and free of injuries There are many years left in that right arm of his. He maybe very special
 

Juanky

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I don't know if I like the way that Nolasco's name was left out of the closer competition. It could mean that JJ's arm really has them worried, and that they need Nolasco for the rotation.
While I do think the bullpen mindset of just sign a bunch of veterans and hope one sticks is passing (which is very good), you have to remember that no one changes their opinion totally right away. You fall back to your original way of doing things for a while. So for that reason, I wouldn't read too much into Nolasco not being talked about as a closing possibility.

I would rather see one of the younger guys develop (yes I know he's 27) into solid closer as I'd like to see as much of the bullpen filled by reliable young arms as possible. Would be much better IMO than getting another yearly rental. It would be another piece of the puzzle towards building a potential dynasty on good pitching if we can get a good bullpen filled with young arms that are far from FA.
While 27 is old for a normal prospect, you have to consider that relievers generally don't come up to the majors at a very young age and they also only have a short lifespan of 2-3 solid years before they kind of fall off into mediocrity generally.
 

Eddie Altamonte

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More on Lindstrom...

http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/story/10010211

Former Mormon missionary has shot to become Marlins' closer
Feb. 20, 2007
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports



JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Lindstrom must be the hardest-throwing, Swedish-speaking, former Mormon missionary in baseball.

It's a large leap from Stockholm to the big leagues, but Lindstrom has a shot at becoming the Florida Marlins' closer this season.

A fastball clocked last fall at 102 mph makes the rookie right-hander a strong candidate, and his missionary background could help, too. A native of Idaho, Lindstrom spent two years in Sweden, where he went door to door trying to spread the Mormon faith -- in Swedish -- with decidedly mixed results. He was once chastised by a 350-pound bus driver who said Mormons try to steal money.

In comparison, nursing a lead in the ninth inning might seem stress-free.

"There were some humbling times, that's for sure," Lindstrom said. "Swedish people aren't really adept at listening to people who want them to listen to a message about religion. They're blockheaded. I know, because I am one."

His great-grandfather immigrated from Sweden, and the blond-haired Lindstrom grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, where he became a three-sport star best at baseball in high school, thanks to a 92 mph fastball.

The missionary work in 1999-2001 and a stress fracture in Lindstrom's upper arm in 2005 slowed his progress, and at 27 he's still trying to break into the big leagues. He pitched last season for Class-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, two New York Mets affiliates, and was traded to Florida in November.

Lindstrom is a candidate to replace closer Joe Borowski, who had 36 saves in 2006 before signing as a free agent with Cleveland. Other possibilities as spring training begins include Henry Owens, who came to Florida with Lindstrom in the Mets trade, Taylor Tankersley, Kevin Gregg and Ricky Nolasco, a starter much of last season.

"There are a lot of options," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Lindstrom comes with considerable buzz - one Florida official said the rookie could throw a marshmallow through a battleship. His teammates at Binghamton in 2005 included Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs, who predicts Lindstrom will consistently hit the high 90s if he wins the closer's job.

"The biggest thing for him is if he can get his mind right as far as being that bulldog kind of guy you need to be as a closer," Jacobs said. "If he can get that mentality, he has a real good shot."

Lindstrom's fastball was clocked at 100 mph for the first time in 2004, when he was with St. Lucie. He reached 99 at the All-Star Futures Game last July in Pittsburgh, and hit 102 last fall in the winter league in Puerto Rico.

What's it like to throw 100 mph?

"It's crazy, especially when you're out there competing and the adrenaline is going," he said. "It's cool."

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Lindstrom has a closer's physique, but he's not staking a claim to the job.

"I'm concerned about making the team first," he said. "I think slowly but surely I could develop into a closer."

Lindstrom complements his fastball with a slider he throws in the 80s. Command wasn't a problem last year, when he walked 21 and struck out 70 in 58 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.37, but he has been told his best pitch is too straight.

"They say I need to get more movement on my fastball," he said. "But it doesn't have much time to move when I throw a good one."

New teammate Dan Uggla faced Lindstrom when both played in the Arizona Fall League.

"His fastball explodes," Uggla said. "It's one of those things you can't teach. If you aren't cheating or ready for it, you aren't going to hit it."

During his two years in Sweden, Lindstrom picked up a ball only once - for a game of catch. But he believes the trip helped his fastball in the long run, because all the bread and cheese he ate added 15 pounds to his frame.

"They have unbelievable bread," he said. "I came home and turned that extra fat into muscle."

Lindstrom began his missionary work after one year of college, even though he was touted as a top prospect certain to be drafted. One scout told him he could be in line for a $700,000 signing bonus.

Instead, Lindstrom took a two-month course to learn Swedish, then spent two years spreading the message of the Mormon church. He went to seven cities in Sweden and has no regrets about putting baseball on hold.

"The people I met and the experiences, you can't learn that anywhere else," he said.

Lindstrom wasn't always warmly received. Knocking on doors at an apartment building, he encountered a Swede he estimated at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds. When the man learned Lindstrom and a companion were Mormon, he sent them on their way by shoving them into the elevator.

Three months later, Lindstrom was about to board a bus when he recognized the driver - his 350-pound acquaintance.

"He shut my foot in the door, and stomped on the gas," Lindstrom said. "He gets on the microphone and says, `You crazy Mormons, trying to steal people's money.' He didn't like us very much."

Lindstrom said it was hard not to take such rejection personally. Still, he's looking forward to a return trip to Sweden late this year.

"I'm going to go after we make the playoffs," he said, "and the World Series."
 

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