Lindstrom opens season with first shot at closing

Lindstrom opens season with first shot at closing

CHICAGO -- White Sox Nation's long wait to find out the team's 2014 closer came to an end prior to Monday's Opening Day contest, with manager Robin Ventura naming veteran Matt Lindstrom as the team's first ninth-inning option.

Lindstrom, 34, didn't make his '14 Cactus League debut until March 21 because of a strained left oblique. But the right-hander, who has 45 career saves, is healthy and ready to go as the season begins.

"Right now, he's throwing a good slider," said Ventura. "It's giving a guy a full inning. There are certain guys that like to have that. I think Matty is one who likes a full inning to work."

Nate Jones and rookie Daniel Webb were other candidates for the closing spot, but Ventura likes the way the bullpen aligns with Lindstrom in the ninth. The team doesn't have a long reliever, per se, although Ventura identified Webb when asked Monday.

"I'll go as long as they need me to," Webb said. "I'm comfortable pitching anywhere from one to three innings. It doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm pitching."

Using Lindstrom early in this higher-profile role could increase his trade value as the season progresses, if the White Sox choose to follow that path in their reshaping. General manager Rick Hahn said Monday that component was not part of the decision.

"Upstairs, we can worry about guys' trade value or how they fit going forward," Hahn said. "We really tend not to have those types of conversations.

"It certainly makes sense that Lindy gets the initial shot at doing it, and that's great. Hopefully, he seizes the job and there's no looking back."

Lindstrom allowed a one-out double in the ninth inning on Monday, but completed a scoreless frame to close out the club's 5-3 win.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.