Patrick Teale

Jacob Lindgren, still rehabbing his way back from surgery, is getting close to his pre-injury form.

TAMPA, FL -- Lefty Jacob Lindgren is back with the Tampa Yankees rehabbing from the elbow surgery that shut him down toward the end of last year. He's gotten off to a familiar strong start already this season and if his first three appearances are any indication he's getting close to his pre-injury form.

On the surface Jacob Lindgren's high-A designation might have seemed odd to most observers, especially considering he has some big league experience under his belt.  Because it’s been so cold up north, however, Lindgren was told that staying in Tampa to rehab was the best option for him, plus having the minor league complex across the street doesn’t hurt either.

After getting the call to the majors and getting his feet wet against the big boys last year, Lindgren started feeling something in his elbow. He didn’t think anything of it and wanted to pitch through it, but near the end of his stint with the New York Yankees he knew something wasn’t quite right.

“There were days that it was bothering me,” Lindgren said. “But it was my first time up there so I was just trying to throw through it and I just thought it was normal soreness. It ended up just getting worse and worse while I was there. The last few days I was up there it was getting really bad.”

He was going to say something but he ended up getting “called down” as Lindgren put it. He said he likes to think positively and saying that was his way of putting a positive spin on things. An admirable quality in a young prospect, he knows already to not get too high and too low because as a reliever things can get awry very quickly.

This was the first time he had to rehab an injury in the offseason and went to a physical therapist in Baton Rouge who helped him progress in the rehab process before coming back to Tampa for Spring Training.

Lindgren has had trouble with walks throughout his time in the minors, never having a BB/9 under four in any stop above Charleston. In the minors, he was able to get away with it because of his filthy slider, which was on display Monday night when struck out three in one inning, but also had a walk mixed in.

During his time in the majors, the strikeouts came, but so did the walks, walking four batters in only seven innings. He also gave up three home runs while he was up there which he never did in the minors at any level.

Maybe it was the elbow injury that caused some, if not all, of the problems while with the Yankees but he knows he needs to cut down on the walks to stay in the majors and he is working with pitching coach Tim Norton to figure out how to do that.

“I’m working on a couple of mechanical things with Norty,” Lindgren said. “It’s my first time working with him, and it’s kinda good to work with a new guy and see what he has to say and just get my confidence back.”

He is working on being able to consistently repeat his delivery and he admits that he sometimes rushes through the delivery which causes his arm angle to be off a little bit. Norton said he needs to stay more under control so he can stay through the ball.

“He was just a little out of whack,” Norton said. “He would turn a little more than other times, but he is working hard every day and we’re pounding on it and he’s been good about it.”

Lindgren mentioned that because the seams in pro ball are smaller than in college his fastball which sits 90-91 MPH so far this season dances more than it had in the past so he is trying to harness that as well.

“I don’t throw a traditional fastball,” Lindgren said. “It cuts, sinks and drops. It moves like a snake a little bit.”

“Velocity isn’t what separates him from a lot of the other guys,” Norton said. “It’s what that ball does. It has so much movement on it, when it’s in the zone it’s so tough to square up.”

On Monday, he had the slider working very well too, but having the consistent delivery will need to be worked on. He threw 22 pitches, 13 of which were strikes. He also threw a wild pitch that advanced the runner he walked in the inning before striking out the batter to earn the save.

“I think it’s [rehab] going well,” manager Patrick Osborne said. “The ball is coming out fine, breaking ball looks good. And he’s throwing strikes.”

All four hitters for the Bradenton Marauders that he faced were right-handed and he had no problem throwing the slider against them. The second batter he faced looked over-matched from the time he stepped to the plate. Three pitches, three strikes, turn around to the dugout. The last batter of the game got it to a 3-2 count and Lindgren had no problem throwing the slider and getting the punch out.

“He’s close to pre-surgery Jacob Lindgren,” Osborne concluded. “Once the velocity gets the uptick, I think you’re going to see the dominate left-handed arm that he has.”

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