Mission Accomplished

Pitchers put service first, find success in majors

Published: Wednesday, May 14 2008 11:55 p.m. MDT

Lindstrom knew that most baseball organizations prefer to mold

young talent. Despite the personal growth he experienced on his

mission, in the eyes of scouts and general managers, he was behind.


\"I didn't really think it was going to happen,\" said Lindstrom,

who simply decided to resume his career at Ricks and see where it took

him. He said he came home \"throwing garbage\" — pitches that topped out

at a mere 85 miles per hour — but Lindstrom began lifting weights and,

like Guthrie, rediscovered his game.


At that point, both players faced the challenge of convincing

clubs that their service hadn't compromised their future, a difficult

task considering the long-standing baseball mind-set regarding returned

missionaries, according to Pullins.


\"The biggest challenge has absolutely nothing to do with their

playing skills,\" Pullins said. \"It's the plain and simple fact that so

many organizations make the assumption that if they're willing to give

up baseball for two years ... they perceive that baseball may not be

important to them.


\"Some of the professional people give up on them ... It's more

making it up in the view of the professional baseball people than it is

on the field between the white lines.\"

AFTER PLAYING ONE more season at Ricks College, Lindstrom was

drafted in June 2002 by the Mets in the 10th round. He's now in his

second full season with the Marlins, living a hectic major league

schedule that includes playing night games, rushing home to do a load

of laundry and packing a suitcase for a road trip the following day.


\"It's worth it,\" he said. \"It's what I love to do.\"


Lindstrom caught a break when he was traded to the Marlins prior

to the 2007 season, after which he earned a spot in the bullpen, thanks

in part to a fastball that at times reaches 100 mph.


Ironically, despite the existing trepidation in baseball about

returned missionaries, Lindstrom's time in Sweden may have helped his

baseball development. He describes himself as a late-bloomer and said

that while other pitchers were putting mileage on their arms, he was

benefiting from the time off.

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