CHICAGO (AP) -Now that he's settled in Chicago, new White Sox reliever Scott Linebrink plans to rebound from a rough 2007.
Traded from San Diego to Milwaukee in late July, the right-hander finished 5-6 overall with a 3.71 ERA - his highest in five years. Still, he got a $19 million, four-year contract from the White Sox this week.
``It was a challenging season for me, not just on the field but off,'' Linebrink said Thursday on a conference call. ``We had the birth of my daughter - my first child - right after the All-Star break, and five days after I was traded.
``There was a four-week period that I really slumped and it was when my wife was away. That was really when a lot of those struggles came.''
A steady setup man with the Padres from 2003-07, Linebrink had a 2.52 ERA before the All-Star break this season and a 2.31 ERA in September. But between July 18 and Aug. 28, he allowed 14 earned runs in 15 1-3 innings.
``If you look at the numbers at the end of August and September, I rebounded and came back strong. My stuff was always there. It was just mentally being in the game and getting outs despite all the things going on at home,'' he said.
``It is very important to me to come back and have a good year. That little dip did hurt me but it wasn't injury-related, it wasn't mechanically related. It was a lot of things going on outside of the game and it made me a stronger person.''
The 31-year-old Linebrink is 30-16 with a 3.21 ERA during his eight-year career.
One concern for him is home runs. He allowed a career-worst 12 this year and is going to homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field after spending 4 1/2 years pitching for the Padres at cavernous PETCO Park.
``We traveled to places like Arizona, Colorado and Philadelphia where you were susceptible to the long ball,'' Linebrink said. ``When I got to ballparks like that, I didn't do anything different. I know long fly balls can hurt you, but when you change your philosophy that's when you get in trouble.''
Linebrink said other teams pursued him aggressively, but the White Sox presented the most attractive offer. Chicago was looking to upgrade its bullpen, especially setup relief - one of its major problems during a 72-90 season.

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