SURPRISE, Ariz. – Josh Lindblom has had a unique experience while playing only one full season in the major leagues: He has already been traded twice for All-Star players.
The big reliever is now with Texas after being dealt during baseball’s winter meetings from Philadelphia with another pitcher for longest-tenured Rangers player Michael Young. That came less than six months after Lindblom had gone from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Phillies in a four-player deal for Shane Victorino.
“I don’t think you ever get used to having to pick up and move cities and teammates,” Lindblom said. “It’s kind of like the first day of school all over again.”
More unique for Lindblom is that both times he changed teams, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander basically replaced a long-time fan favorite on the roster.
“Coming here and replacing Michael, I don’t look at it that way. I kind of got caught up in that when I went to Philly, coming in and trying to be what Shane was to that city and to that team,” he said. “Just realizing that I can only be me, so you know when I come in here, I can’t be Michael Young, I can’t be the person that he was for the community, for the team, for the city. Michael Young is going to go down as one of the greatest Rangers ever to put on a uniform.”
Victorino played 7 1/2 seasons in Philadelphia, where he was twice an All-Star before the non-waiver deadline deal last July 31. Young was a seven-time All-Star infielder for the Rangers, spending a dozen years with a team that went from last place to consecutive World Series appearances and becoming their career hits leader.
While Lindblom is wearing the No. 25 jersey that belonged to Mike Napoli, the slugging catcher who left in free agency for Boston last winter, at least it’s not Young’s No. 10.
“All we want (Lindblom) to do is be Josh Lindblom,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “If he tries to live up to the expectation that Michael Young had around here, then he’s barking up the wrong tree because there’s nobody going to fill those shoes. ... Just be Josh and he’ll be fine.”
Lindblom said he has come to the realization that he can only be himself and that the Rangers traded for him “for a reason, because they think I can help this club.”
Lindblom is expected to be a primary setup man in a vastly changed Rangers bullpen. He struck out the side in his only inning of his first instrasquad game a week into camp.
In a combined 74 appearances last season for the Dodgers and Phillies, Lindblom had a 3.55 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 35 walks over 71 innings. He had a 4.63 ERA in 26 games after being sent to Philadelphia.
Experience has helped Lindblom have a different mentality following his latest move.
“There’s kind of a bitterness toward the team that traded you. Because I figured I would always be with L.A,” Lindblom said of the team that picked him in the second round of the 2008 draft. “I love that organization, but trying to justify the trade, trying to go out and be like you know what, you got me for a reason, I’m here to do a job. You feel like you have to be lights out and that’s not the case at all.”