Lindstrom sleeps well in anticipation of first season with Rockies@

Associated Press Modified: February 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm •  Published: February 13, 2011
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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."