CHICAGO -- The White Sox exercised their $4 million club option on Matt Lindstrom on Thursday, in lieu of paying a $500,000 buyout, returning the right-handed reliever to the team's bullpen for 2014.
Lindstrom, 33, adds a much-needed veteran presence to a young White Sox relief corps. Consistent success in the late innings doesn't hurt Lindstrom's cause either.
"His veteran element is important, but the more important part is how well he performs and his durability and fit for our ballpark," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.
"He excelled in keeping the ball on the ground, and that helps anyone survive in that ballpark," Hahn added. "He's older in what could be a fairly young bullpen. He'll continue to be a good influence on younger guys as they continue to develop in our 'pen."
Over 76 appearances during the 2013 season, Lindstrom posted a 2-4 record with a 3.12 ERA. He finished with 20 holds and 46 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings, but more importantly, ranked second among American League relievers in double plays with 15. His 76 games placed him third overall in the AL, tied for the seventh-most in franchise history, and were the most by a White Sox reliever since Kelly Wunsch's 83 games in 2000.
When Lindstrom signed as a free agent with the White Sox on Jan. 25, he told reporters at SoxFest that he waited so long because he was waiting for the White Sox to call. His attitude toward the White Sox didn't change despite the 99-loss debacle, and it was an optimistic Lindstrom who felt the young players getting time down the stretch could provide benefits for the organization because of that experience.
"Not everybody just comes up to the big leagues and all of a sudden is a winner, especially when you are young," said Lindstrom during an interview with MLB.com in the season's final weekend. "With the Garcias [Avisail and Leury] and a couple of other guys, them getting their feet wet a little bit in the big leagues, knowing what to expect, how to handle a few different things, it will pay dividends down the road.
"With a couple of right mixes added in [free agency] in the next year or two, you never know what could happen. You saw the Red Sox. They had to revamp their whole thing."
Addison Reed and Nate Jones will join Lindstrom in relief, with a group of equally young relievers including Donnie Veal, Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb, Dylan Axelrod and Charlie Leesman also currently in the mix. Lindstrom, whose 1.21 ERA on the road since 2011 is the lowest among Major League relievers, helps fill the veteran void left by the in-season departures of Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain.
"Again, his ability to be ready daily and bounce back," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Lindstrom's positives, including bringing younger pitchers along and learning to recover quickly from rough outings. "He turned himself into a seventh-, eighth-inning guy, a ground-ball guy, and is also a veteran leadership-wise being in the bullpen."