Marlins hand closer role to Lindstrom

Marlins hand closer role to Lindstrom

PHILADELPHIA -- A couple of the workhorses in the Marlins' bullpen are on the verge of returning, but they will be used in different roles.

Renyel Pinto was reinstated on Monday after the left-hander had been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 24 with a left hamstring strain.

The plan for now is to ease Pinto back into the action in situations where the game isn't on the line.

Now that Pinto is activated after missing 13 games, the team also is close to getting back the services of Kevin Gregg, who had been shut down due to left knee inflammation.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Gregg, who tested the knee in fielding drills on Monday in Philadelphia, should be available on Tuesday night. However, the right-hander, who has 29 saves to go along with nine missed save chances, will not be used in the closer role.

That role has fallen to Matt Lindstrom, who collected his first Major League save on Friday at St. Louis.

Lindstrom, a hard-throwing right-hander, had been used mostly in seventh- and eight-inning setup roles, but will now get a look as the closer.

"It's an opportunity for him," Gonzalez said.

The 28-year-old Lindstrom remains under club control in 2009, and he projects to be a prime candidate to close next season. Gregg, meanwhile, is making $2.5 million in his second year of arbitration, and the team will have to decide if the right-hander is part of its plans next year.

For Gregg and Pinto, just getting back into action will be important to build back their confidence in the final weeks of the season. Whenever possible, teams like to allow their players who are battling injuries to head into the offseason with the peace of mind that they healthy.

In the cases of Pinto, who is expected back in '09, and Gregg, both have logged a lot of innings the past two seasons.

Gregg, for instances, has 61 saves in his two seasons with the Marlins, and he has appeared in 63 games this year after logging 74 a year ago. Also in '07, he threw 84 innings, compared to 61 2/3 innings this season.

Pinto has been used in 65 games, and he's thrown 64 innings. Last year, the lefty from Venezuela was used in 57 games and he threw 58 2/3 innings.

"We'll get [Pinto] in there, not in situations that are game-deciding," Gonzalez said.

Added pitching coach Mark Wiley: "I think it's important that they are able to finish on a positive note heading into next year."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.