While Lindblom has at times struggled to find consistency at the big-league level, he has been a quietly productive pitcher in Triple-A over the past two seasons. Across 26 appearances in 2022 (24 starts), Lindblom went 9-7 with a 4.05 ERA and 133 strikeouts in as many innings.
The inconsistency has not been easy on the veteran hurler. Feeling the disappointment and pressure around him after signing his three-year deal with the Brewers back in late 2019, there were times where he loosely considered walking away from the game.
“Let’s be honest, my contract didn’t pan out the way everyone hoped. I can tell you that nobody is more disappointed than I am. Last season, I was coming to a place I didn’t want to be with people I didn’t want to be with and no end in sight,” he tells FanSided.
One specific day sticks out in Lindblom’s mind when asked about when his mindset began to shift. “Sweetie (Sounds manager Rick Sweet) could see my locker from his office and one day he came out and asked me what was wrong. I told him, ‘every day on the way to the field I drive past an exit that would take me straight home. I’d be on my doorstep in five hours. Every single day I think about it but haven’t been able to do it yet.'”
He goes on to say how Sweet expressed to him that this team needs him. He says his effort level never faltered from the “all-in approach” he typically has, but the things Sweet said to him helped him see everything in a different light.
“From my pre-game talks with Buffy (Sounds hitting coach Al LeBeouf) to railing talks with Ned (Yost IV, general coach), hanging out with Jeremy Accardo (Sounds pitching coach) and Jim Henderson (former Sounds pitching coach) and outfield talks with Sean Isaac (Sounds development coach)”, he says, “every single coach over the past two years has played a huge part in who I am today.”
Suddenly, Nashville became a place he wanted to be with people he wanted nothing more than to not only be with, but to win with. In what was his second year on the Sounds, he also began to truly embrace a new to him role: clubhouse leader.
As any good clubhouse leader does, the 15-year veteran Lindblom immediately approaches each and every new player that arrives during the year. “I tell them, ‘you are a part of this team. What you do on this team, whether you’re successful or not, does not define your acceptance or your identity on this team. You’re here to help us win.’ It allows them to relax and be themselves so we can all just go out there and perform,” he tells us when asked about his approach to taking young guys under his wing.
Brewers’ Josh Lindblom on embracing leadership role in the minor leagues and playing his part in the development of club’s top prospects.
Lindblom is the type of person who remembers everybody’s name, everybody’s face and everybody’s story. While he has spent recent years being the mentor, he previously spent many years as the mentee and has learned positive lessons from so many people down the road that have stuck with him ever since. He has fond memories of many players and coaches who taught him the importance of character building and leadership over the years.
“Don Mattingly (first MLB manager), Rick Honeycutt (pitching coach) and Kenny Howell (bullpen coach) taught me what it is to feel believed in,” he says. “All managers walk around the outfield during practices, but Donnie was different. You felt like you were the only person in the world for the 15-20 minutes you got. Our bullpen in ’11 was basically our Double-A bullpen. We were all the big-league squad had, and the coaches knew that we needed someone to believe in us regardless of our service time.”
Juan Pierre, a longtime MLB veteran who was a teammate of Lindblom’s back on the 2012 Phillies, had a mindset that stuck with Lindblom over the years. “The guy was a straight up machine,” he says. “One day sitting down at breakfast, I say to him, ‘Juan, I am so tired,’ and he looks me in the eye and says in his slow Louisiana drawl, ‘Big Josh, you’ve got to realize everybody is tired. No one cares how you feel. No one is going to feel sorry for you. You’ve got to just get the job done. Machines don’t get tired.'”
Jamey Wright taught Lindblom resilience. Mike Restovich taught him about the sacrifices that need to be made in life. Jim Lathrop (former Purdue Football strength coach) taught him what it means to be a leader. Craig Moore, another former coach, taught him what it was to dedicate his life to helping others. Brad Holman, a former pitching coach, was responsible for changing his mindset and helping the trajectory of his career change as he transitioned from a relief pitcher to a starting pitcher.
Towards the middle of this past season, it began to really set in that his true value does not necessarily lie in his making starts every five or six days. His true value came in the four or five days between starts where he could sit and mentor some of the Brewers’ top prospects.
“We are in a hamster wheel where we’re constantly chasing success. In a sport where failure is kind of the norm, that makes it really hard for guys to know who they are and know their role on the team. I took it upon myself to ensure that these guys are learning how to be professionals and learning how to be leaders on their ballclub. It’s a responsibility of mine to pass on the lessons that I have learned over the years and instill some of this knowledge in the younger guys,” he says.
“Brice (Turang) is one of the most mature and talented shortstops that I have ever played with in my entire career. Joey (Wiemer), Sal (Frelick), (Robert) Gasser, (Garrett) Mitchell and (Esteury) Ruiz, the list goes on and on. All of these young guys have me saying to myself constantly ‘man, these guys just don’t know how good they are.’ With these guys, it’s all about helping them to stay out of their own way and prevent them from messing up a good thing,” he finishes.
Don’t just take my word for it. Infielder Weston Wilson and outfielder Matt Lipka, two teammates of his this past season were behind him for nearly all of his starts. The two Brewers minor leaguers could not say enough about the value Lindblom brought to this club.
“Josh is the best teammate I’ve had the opportunity to be around,” says Lipka. “He sets an unbelievable standard as to how to lead and be a good person in general. Brings unreal energy to the team day in and day out and has been the glue of the team in my opinion since I’ve been there. He does a great job of helping the young guys get acclimated to Triple-A and shares his expertise in a way that flat out gets through to guys. Josh would be an unreal addition to a team’s front office with how he understands analytics and he knows how to use/apply it best for the development of players,” he finishes.
Wilson echoed Lipka’s statement, going on to say, “I have to say that he is one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had. He has had a lasting impact on my life both on and off the field. He is a true leader and I know other people feel the same. We have had many conversations away from the game and I truly love the guy.”
“The Brewers are in a very, very good situation moving forward, especially from a position player standpoint. These are all guys who could potentially be superstars, and that is a term I do not use lightly,” Lindblom says, beaming while talking about the potential these prospects have.
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Wherever Josh Lindblom lands in the immediate future, he has done all he can to mentor the top prospects in the Brewers system and leave a permanent mark on them as so many did for him during his journey.