Matt Lindstrom gets closer role
Lindstrom has closing experience, saving 23 games with the Houston Astros in 2010, but made just three Cactus League appearances this spring because of an oblique injury that is now healed. He takes over the role left vacant when Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter.
"I just have confidence in him with what he's done in the past and what he did in spring training," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's the right guy to start us off."
Jones has been pegged as the closer of the future and made eight Cactus League appearances, despite missing an early part of the schedule with a strained gluteal muscle.
Jones left Arizona with a 2.35 ERA, but did have a brief bout with command issues that plagued him in the early going last season.
General manager Rick Hahn denied the front office was in concert with the coaching staff to use Lindstrom as the closer early in the season to drive up his value and use the free-agent-to-be as July trade bait.
"Robin and his staff remain focused on putting us in the best position to win as many games as possible," Hahn said before the game. "Upstairs we can worry about guys' trade value or how they fit going forward. 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. At the same time, we tried to enter this year by providing Robin with enough late-inning options, guys with good enough stuff, with the ability to pitch high-leverage situations, whether they come up in the seventh, eighth or ninth and let him and [pitching coach Don Cooper] figure out what the best time is to deploy each of them. Nothing is set in stone in terms of roles, this is just how we're starting the day."
Increasing Lindstrom's value would make sense since this current roster rebuild is expected to last into next year and getting some kind of return on a player who doesn't figure to be re-signed is a route the team went last year.
If Lindstrom is ultimately moved at midseason, that figures to be the time that Jones takes over the role.
"He could be [the eventual closer]," Ventura said. "We have a few guys who could do that. But I think Nate, where he is at right now, he's comfortable coming into any situation and getting the tough out in the seventh and eighth and he's used to that."