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White Sox assisting new reliever refine landing spot on delivery to help command

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 10:21 a.m. CDT

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(MCT) — MARYVALE, Ariz. — Even after posting a 2.68 ERA in 46 games last season, Matt Lindstrom thinks there’s room for improvement.

Shortly after Lindstrom signed a one-year contract with the White Sox in January, he quickly informed pitching coach Don Cooper what he wanted to work on this spring.

From the first day of spring workouts, Cooper, bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen and minor league pitching coordinator Curt Hasler have examined Lindstrom’s landing spot to help him get better command of his fastball, which was once clocked as fast as 100 mph and averages 96.

“We’re making some minor alterations,” Cooper said before Lindstrom threw a perfect inning Thursday against the Brewers. “They are not changes. We’re making sure he stays good and tall as he’s riding to the plate and taking advantage of that 6-foot-4 height.

“We’re also trying to close up his landing a little bit as well as playing around with his cutter and slider. What we’re thinking is that these adjustments will help his command.”

Lindstrom, 33, allowed only two home runs in 47 innings last season for the Orioles and Diamondbacks. But the Sox are trying to help Lindstrom improve his location to lower his hits allowed per nine innings, which is slightly less than one per inning.

“I wanted to get more direction and stay taller to use my frame to my advantage because if you start your stride too long, you’re almost throwing the ball uphill and the batter sees it better,” Lindstrom said. “I’m creating that downhill (stride) better.”

Lindstrom, now pitching for his sixth team, was signed to add late-inning depth and help second-year closer Addison Reed. Lindstrom has 45 major league saves, including 23 with the Astros in 2010 and 15 with the Marlins in 2009.

His ERA has dipped dramatically, from 5.89 in 2009 to 2.68 last season, since shifting out of a closer’s role.

Shortly after signing with the Sox, Lindstrom was more concerned with improving than thinking of closing.

The coaches have helped Lindstrom eliminate what is described as “swinging the gate open” with his leg and instead making his delivery more compact and direct to home plate.

Throughout his career, Lindstrom has shown the ability to improve. He allowed 55 walks in 731/3 innings at Double-A Binghamton to 28 walks in 101 innings over the last two seasons.

“Look at his numbers,” Cooper said. “It’s not like the walks are a big problem. He keeps the ball in the park. He has a nice changeup. We need that for more strikes and swings.”

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