Lindstrom sets sights on Shea

With a handful of sizzling triple-digit fastballs before the right audience, Binghamton right-hander Matt Lindstrom has raised his value, both inside and outside the Mets organization.

The 26-year-old Lindstrom's scoreless, two-strikeout inning in the All-Star Futures Game at Pittsburgh's PNC Park has quickly become a cherished memory. Now, the question is if he'll make new impressions in the Mets' system, or elsewhere.

Sources have indicated that Lindstrom's name could be one of the first to come up in discussions, if the Mets are inclined to deal before the July 31 non-waivers trading deadline.

"I've thought about it a little bit," Lindstrom said. "But my sights are still toward playing at Shea Stadium. I was drafted as a Met and I'd like to make it a Met. That'll take care of itself when it comes, so I don't really think about it too much."

A 10th round selection in the 2002 draft and a member of the Mets' 40-man roster, Lindstrom is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA and seven saves in 19 appearances for Binghamton entering Thursday's action.

He has struck out 30 and walked 11 in 23 innings since being promoted from Class-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League in late May.

Hindered last season by a stress fracture in his pitching arm that affected his control, Lindstrom said he was curious about some reactions following the July 7 appearance in the Futures Game.

After all, as Lindstrom pointed out, his velocity at Pittsburgh wasn't much different than what he's done for St. Lucie and Binghamton this season.

"A lot of the guys after the game in Pittsburgh came up to me and said, 'Are you serious?'" Lindstrom said. "I just said, 'I'm just throwing like I always throw.'

"What I did in Pittsburgh, that's pretty much what I've been doing all year. My velocity wasn't just a one-time thing. I've been blessed with a good fastball, and I'm just trying to locate it."

Lindstrom hit 101 MPH with his fastball three times during the seventh inning for the U.S. team, striking out the first two batters he faced.

He said he'd only hit 101 MPH once before this season, doing so at Bowie, Md. against the Bay Sox, but the Tradition Field radar gun in Port St. Lucie, Fla. credited Lindstrom with triple digits "just about every outing," he said.

"This year, I don't know what's going on with my velocity," Lindstrom said.

But he believes a scapular strengthening program administered by the Mets in Denver before Lindstrom reported to spring training is due credit, helping the manual functions of his pitching motion gain stability and force.

The fact that Lindstrom is pitching without pain helps, as well. He walked 55 in 73 1/3 innings at Binghamton last season, wincing before most pitches and preparing his mind for the fact that each fastball would hurt.

"It wasn't like my velocity was down last year – I was still throwing 95, 97 MPH," Lindstrom said.

"It's tough to [admit] it hurt, but it did hurt. It was affecting my mechanics and my location. This year, I'm able to just go after guys and pound the strike zone. I've had a few walks here and there, but I'm just trying to challenge guys with my stuff."

The results have opened eyes, not only among the Mets' ranks, but also those potentially doing business with GM Omar Minaya as the deadline approaches. Lindstrom said he is doing his best to block out distractions, though he acknowledges that rumors have been floating his way lately.

"If I'm playing for the Mets or somebody else, that's not my decision," Lindstrom said. "All I can do is try to continue to develop. But after the showcase in Pittsburgh, I've heard it a little bit more."

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