SCOTSDALE, Ariz. — Baseball lore is filled with bizarre injuries, and the Colorado Rockies certainly have contributed to the cause.
The Deer Hunter, Clint Barmes, fractured his collarbone while hauling venison up some steps. Troy Tulowitzki slashed the palm of his hand to the tune of 16 stitches while slamming a bat to the ground in disgust. First-base coach Glenallen Hill tumbled out of bed into a glass table during his playing days while having a nightmare about spiders crawling on him.
OK, so Matt Lindstrom landing on the disabled list with back spasms from sleeping on a rented bed doesn't quite measure up to those mishaps, but it's high on the list. All Lindstrom knows is that his back was a mess. And before long, so was his season.
That was in 2010, when Lindstrom had your basic Jekyll-and-Hyde season with the Astros. He was lights out early, saving 21 games and compiling a 2.80 ERA by the all-star break, only to implode — 0-4, 7.50, two saves — after the break.
Fans will be glad to know Lindstrom has a new lease on life, having been traded to the Rockies during the offseason — and a new bed.
"I'm not going to rent any furniture in my apartment," Lindstrom said. "I've already got that set up. I'm going to be sleeping good. Hopefully, my back issues are in the past. I feel great."
Back spasms from a rented bed? Really? That has to go on the list of baseball's all-time mishaps, a roll call topped by former Giants manager Roger Craig cutting his hand on a bra strap.
The problem started, Lindstrom said, when he arrived in Houston after spring training following his trade to the Astros from Florida.
"I had a day and a half from the time we broke spring training to get into a place," he said. "I didn't know the Houston area. I was going to a new team and I didn't really know anyone on the club as well.
"It was pretty much my fault. I needed a bed. It was about me being stubborn and seriously blockheaded. I didn't think my back was going to give out on me in July."
At that point, Lindstrom was having a career year, and for a team that was struggling. The Astros lost their first eight games and finished June at 18-34, but Lindstrom was a shining light in the darkness. But as his back got worse, so did his command.
"When you've got a feel throughout the season and then you lose it and go try to find it again, it's tough," Lindstrom said. "Especially coming back from a back injury. Looking back, I know what I can do, especially when I'm not trying to fight through something. It's a long season. It's a grind, and you've got to take the necessary steps and not be so stubborn at times."
At least Lindstrom didn't lose his sense of humor. Asked what he took away from last season, Lindstrom said, "You've got to take care of yourself and not rent crappy furniture and stuff."
The Astros considered Lindstrom expendable after his second-half struggles, and the Rockies were more than happy to acquire him.
Lindstrom? There wasn't a place he would rather have gone. An Idaho native, he has lived in Denver in the offseason for most of his major-league career.
"There were talks about me being traded here in '07 and '09, so I was always thinking, 'Wow, that would be neat,' " he said. "To sign a long-term deal in pretty much my hometown is kind of surreal to me. It's really a blessing."
The Rockies' willingness to give him a two-year, $6.6 million contract when one year would have avoided an arbitration hearing is Exhibit A of how their front office views Lindstrom. He fits the bill of the power arm general manager Dan O'Dowd had been seeking in the offseason.
Lindstrom, who turned 31 on Friday, hit 100-plus mph on the radar gun in his early years with the Marlins. He dipped into the mid-90s last season but is confident he'll be able to throw harder now that his back issues are gone.
His role is something of a work in progress. The Rockies have stockpiled unprecedented depth at the back end of their bullpen, with Lindstrom joining a group that already included Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street. Lindstrom could pitch anytime from the sixth inning on, depending on the workload of the other three.
"Sometimes, coming over here, I was thinking, 'Where am I going to fit in?' " Lindstrom said. "We're going to take care of the innings when we get them. Hopefully our starters get through seven or eight innings and they don't need any of us."
But Rockies relievers always get more than their share of work. For all anyone knows, Lindstrom could see some action in the ninth inning, where all eyes will be on Street after his injury-decimated 2010 season.
"Lindstrom serves a lot of purposes," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "He's a buffer for Raffy and Belisle in games that we have to stay off one of those guys. Taking Belisle close to 100 innings again is something we'd like to avoid this season."
Lindstrom is also a safety valve in case Street reprises a season in which he struggled to find his pinpoint slider and changeup.
"If Huston isn't the guy we saw in 2009, this is a guy, in Lindstrom, who has closed games," Tracy said. "We'll see how it all works out. What I don't want to do is thrust Betancourt and Belisle into a ninth-inning situation and take them out of their comfort level."