A year ago, Adam Lind had been sent to the minor leagues, leaving his career in question. A year later, the Toronto Blue Jays slugger is one of the hottest hitters in the major leagues.
Lind says it's all a matter of keeping it simple. Make sure he's swinging at a strike. Don't try to hit a home run every at-bat. Know the situation.
An at-bat in the second inning on Tuesday's game testified to his hot streak, if not his transformation. Facing the left-handed Jose Quintana of the White Sox, he drilled a fastball of 93 miles an hour to the opposite field for a double that triggered a two-run inning.
The Blue Jays' game against Chicago on Wednesday was cancelled because of weather. The Jays flew to Texas where they are scheduled to face the Rangers' Yu Darvish on Thursday. Lind went 3-for-3 against the Cy Young contender last Saturday, one of his 10 multihit games in the past 15 outings. During that span, he's hitting .464.
Once deemed unsuitable to play against southpaws, Lind is hitting .500 against them in a 22 at-bats this season, albeit a small sample size as he's only recently been given full-time rather than platoon at-bats.
"It's still early," he said. "If it keeps going, great, I'll continue to play."
During the interleague swing against Atlanta, San Francisco and Detroit recently, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons altered his defence to create an opening in the field for Lind, who is usually the designated hitter but is also an adept first baseman. Compare that accommodation to last year at this time, when the club had placed him on waivers, out-righting him to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Talk about taking advantage of opportunity. Since taking a few days off on parental leave when his wife gave birth to their second child in late April, he's hit for a .377 average. In the cleanup spot behind Edwin Encarnacion, he's giving ample protection now, hitting .379 with a .956 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Key to success is discipline, and hitting the ball to all fields rather than trying to pull for power.
"I'm just taking a nice easy path to the ball, hopefully hit it on the barrel, and hopefully the pitch is over the plate too," Lind said, after a three-hit game against the White Sox on Tuesday.
During spring training, Gibbons discussed Lind's potential without making a commitment to playing time. Clearly, Lind had to prove himself once more. He was a long way removed from that 2009 season, when he hit 35 homers, drove in 114 runs and averaged .305.
He's finding his way back. On April 23, the last game before his parental leave, he was batting .244. Since then, he's increased his batting average 100 points to .344. In June, so far, he's hitting .450.
Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
Thursday, 8:05 p.m. (EDT): RHP Esmil Rogers (1-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.75)
Friday, 8:05 p.m.: LHP Mark Buehrle (2-4, 5.06) vs. RHP Justin Grimm (5-4, 5.25)
Saturday, 4:05 p.m.: RHP Josh Johnson (0-2, 5.40) vs. RHP Josh Lindblom (0-1, 5.91)
Sunday 3:05 p.m.: RHP R.A. Dickey (5-8, 5.11) vs. LHP Derek Holland (5-3, 3.11)
Notes: Batting practice for the Rangers and the Cleveland Indians was cancelled on Wednesday at the Ballpark in Arlington when a water pipe burst behind the pitcher's mound, creating a sinkhole. Metaphorically, that's an apt omen for the Blue Jays. Their 35-60 record (.378) at the Ballpark is worse only than the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers swept three games last season, and have won five of six. ... Last weekend in Toronto, the Jays had a chance to sweep the Rangers but squandered a four-run lead on Sunday. ... The Rangers have cooled, losing nine of 15 heading into Wednesday's finale with Cleveland. ... Both teams have key hitters hobbling on strained hamstrings, Melky Cabrera for the Jays and Adrian Beltre, Rangers. ... Key difference between the teams is starting pitching. Toronto's rotation is 13-24 (Texas, 25-20) for a .351 winning percentage (.556), 5.33 earned-run average, (3.71) in 341 1/3 innings (381 1/3). … Darvish started the 18-inning loss to the Jays last Saturday; he's 2-1, 3.12 vs. Toronto with 29 strikeouts in 26 innings. … With Wednesday's game in Chicago postponed, the Blue Jays pushed back the rotation one day, meaning Chien-Ming Wang will start Monday in Toronto rather than Sunday in Texas. ... Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion's hitting streak reached eight with a two-run homer on Tuesday. ... Jays fielder Jose Bautista hit three home runs in Chicago including the game tying solo homer on Tuesday, in the ninth inning with two outs. … Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia is chasing everything during a 3-for-41 slump spanning 10 games, with 16 strikeouts including three on Tuesday and three on Sunday. He was dropped to seventh in the batting order on Tuesday.