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updated: 3/31/2014 10:02 PM

For openers, Lindstrom makes Ventura look smart

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  • White Sox relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom, left, high fives Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura after getting the save in their 5-3 win during the White Sox home opener against the Minnesota twins Monday at US Cellular Field.

      White Sox relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom, left, high fives Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura after getting the save in their 5-3 win during the White Sox home opener against the Minnesota twins Monday at US Cellular Field.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

The mystery is solved, at least for now.

Prior to Monday's season opener against the Twins, White Sox manager Robin Ventura announced Matt Lindstrom as the new closer.

After former closer Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 16 for minor-league third baseman Matt Davidson, Nate Jones and his 100-mph fastball became the instant favorite to take over the job.

Even though a strained left oblique limited him to 3 appearances in the Cactus League, Lindstrom is a veteran reliever with 45 saves over his seven-year career, including 23 with the Astros in 2010.

"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 of Lindstrom. "He's the right guy to start us off. In the past he has closed and right now, he's throwing a good slider."

Lindstrom didn't have to wait long to get his first save try. The right-hander came on in the ninth inning against the Twins on Monday and worked around a one-out double while saving his first game since April 14, 2011, when he pitched for the Colorado Rockies.

Lindstrom found out he was the closer after Sunday's workout at U.S. Cellular Field.

"That was a pretty neat feeling for myself," he said. "I've done it a little before. I wouldn't say I have extensive experience doing that role, but it has been a long time coming.

"I feel like I've gotten better each year the last four years coming out of the bullpen in whatever inning. I feel like I'm suited for the role but I also feel like we have other guys who could do it."

If Lindstrom falters, the Sox won't hesitate to make a change in the ninth inning. In addition to Jones, Maikel Cleto, Daniel Webb and Ronald Belisario are potential closers.

"Hopefully, (Lindstrom) seizes the job and there's no looking back," general manager Rick Hahn said. "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 Coop (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."

Injury update:

Gordon Beckham (left oblique strain) and Jeff Keppinger (shoulder) opened the season on the disabled list.

One of them, Beckham, could be back with the White Sox in the next week or so.

"He really wanted to be here today," general manager Rick Hahn said of Beckham. "It's Opening Day, he's excited, he wants to be here with the guys. It really was about four or five days ago where he and I had a conversation where it was clear that this type of injury, you don't mess around. And if March 31st wasn't Opening Day, March 31st would not have been the goal in terms of getting him back on the field.

"He's starting to play in games back at the minor-league complex. Hopefully there's a rehab assignment sometime middle or late this week and we'll see how it progresses. Obliques aren't something to be trifled with and until he's 100 percent ready to go without restriction, we're not going to bring him back."

As for Keppinger, he is still dealing with the aftermath of a Sept. 26 shoulder surgery.

"We had to essentially restart his rehabilitation on his shoulder," Hahn said. "Thus far it has been going smoothly, but until you ramp it up you really don't know for sure."

Feeling a draft:

Thanks to a 99-loss season in 2013, the White Sox have the No. 3 overall pick in the June amateur draft.

"We're going to get a good player at No. 3 and frankly, part of the benefit of the lousy season last year isn't just the player you get at 3 but the larger signing pool that allows you to get even better players throughout the entire draft," GM Rick Hahn said. "I don't know the exact number, but it's going to be close to $10 million we'll have to spend on domestic talent this year, which is a tremendous shot in the arm for the organization.

"We're going to take the best player available. At the same time, based on this year's talent pool it's a strong possibility that's going to be a pitcher."

According to Baseball America, North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rondon is the consensus top pick in the upcoming draft, followed by right-handers Jeff Hoffman from East Carolina and Tyler Kolek, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound high school phenom from Texas.

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