Time running out for Lindstrom to make club

Veteran reliever would become free agent if he does not make roster

Time running out for Lindstrom to make club

MESA, Ariz. -- Decision time on Matt Lindstrom is five days away, at most.

By Tuesday, Lindstrom will either be a part of the Angels' bullpen or join the free-agent market all over again. The 35-year-old right-hander was signed to a Minor League contract and can opt out if he isn't placed on the active roster five days before Opening Day.

And Lindstrom isn't sure if there's an opening.

"There's a ton of guys in here that have shown they can compete at this level," he said. "I just hope I can be one of those guys that breaks camp with the team. It'd be fun to be on a team like this, that has so much potential, especially with how many games they won last year. The pitching staff's going to be solid no matter which way they go, but I'm hoping to be a part of that."

Lindstrom posted a 3.56 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP from 2007-13, compiling 45 saves and averaging 62 appearances. Last year, though, he suffered an oblique strain in Spring Training, then missed 12 weeks with a left ankle injury and never got right, posting a 7.20 ERA in his last 16 appearances and feeling vulnerable every time he landed.

He's excited about how his arm feels this spring, even though it's hard to tell by the seven runs, eight hits and three walks he's allowed in 4 2/3 innings.

"I can just tell the ball's coming out better," Lindstrom said. "Hopefully, that can just translate to outs."

One or two spots are available in the Angels' bullpen, depending on whether they open with seven or eight relievers. Six of them belong to Huston Street, Joe Smith, Mike Morin, Fernando Salas, Cesar Ramos and Vinnie Pestano. Another could go to a long reliever, like Drew Rucinski or Jose Alvarez.

Lindstrom's contract creates incentive, but it may also be a disadvantage. The Angels' front office is big on roster flexibility, which allows them to freely move players from Triple-A to the Major Leagues whenever needs arise throughout the year. It was evident last season, when they used a franchise-record 31 pitchers.

Lindstrom -- like Ryan Mattheus, who signed a Minor League deal, but can open the season in Triple-A -- is out of options. And if he makes the team, he locks up a bullpen with at least five relievers who figure to stay in the Major Leagues all season.

For now, all he can do is wait.

"I just have to stay ready," Lindstrom said. "This is the first time I've been in this position before. It's kind of new to me. But at the same time, they have to go with the best roster they have towards the end of camp."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.