Blue Jays send struggling Lind to Minors
First baseman to work his way back; no timeframe established
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays attempted to exercise a lot of caution with Adam Lind this season, but the breaking point finally occurred on Thursday afternoon.
Toronto optioned the veteran first baseman to Triple-A Las Vegas following a prolonged period of struggles at the plate. It was a remarkable fall from grace for a player who entered the season as the club's primary cleanup hitter.
The underlying hope is that Lind will be able to regain his stroke in the Minor Leagues and eventually work his way back to Toronto, but there is no immediate timeframe for when that could happen.
"He's obviously gotten off to a slow start this season and, really, from the All-Star break and on last year," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Obviously didn't do as well, we tried multiple things to try to get him going. John [Farrell, manager] experimented with different spots in the lineup.
"I know he has been working tirelessly and diligently with everyone in the organization, and we just felt like, obviously, this was an opportunity for him to clear his head and be in an environment where he can work on some things."
Lind is now more than two full seasons removed from his Silver Slugger campaign that saw him post a .305 average with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs as a designated hitter. The production fell off the following year, but he enjoyed a resurgence during the early stages of the 2011 campaign.
The 28-year-old Lind began that season hitting .339, with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 46 games. He had appeared to regain his previous form, but a lingering back injury hampered the overall production and the numbers quickly dropped.
Lind hit just .202, with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs the rest of the way and has been looking for an extended period of consistent production ever since.
"That's what we're searching for," Farrell said of Lind's past success. "That's what every attempt in addressing his needs right now are focused on, to get him back to that productive hitter that his track record shows. And a long track record -- I don't think it was just a one-year stat line on a baseball card.
"He's a talented hitter, and yet we've got to get him to a place where we can address some of those things without the urgency to win today. There's no timeline on this either, the timeline will be directly attached to Adam Lind and when he's ready to come back and be the type of hitter he is very capable of being."
Lind will receive a few days off before appearing in his first official game with Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon. Anthopoulos said that while nobody ever wants to be sent down, Lind was understanding of the situation and that more was expected by not only the team but the player as well.
It will now be up to 51s hitting coach Chad Mottola to help turn things around. Mottola has received a lot of credit in recent months for his work with Travis Snider, Adeiny Hechavarria and Travis d'Arnaud in Las Vegas, and the club hopes there will be similar results with Lind.
The problem won't necessarily be easy to pinpoint. Lind's problems appeared to be constantly changing, and it's about finding the right balance with everything that he has been working on.
"There was an adjustment on his part to what the league has done to him," said Farrell, who will use Edwin Encarnacion at first base during Lind's absence. "His aggressiveness took him out of the strike zone a lot, oppositions were exploiting that, and then to get back to a little bit more of a controlled approach, he became, at times I think, a little passive in his aggressiveness.
"So the pendulum swung too far in one direction, and we're trying to find that middle ground, and that's what we're still pursuing."
Lind is in the third season of a four-year, $18 million deal. The Blue Jays also have club options for 2014-16. It was the first major extension Anthopoulos handed out during his tenure as GM, and at the time it looked like a bargain.
The seven-year veteran still has plenty of time to turn things around. Some of the current issues could be psychological. Farrell, a former pitching coach with the Red Sox, had a quick answer when asked what the biggest difference is between the Lind of 2009 and the Lind of 2012.
"Confidence is one," Farrell said. "When he got a fastball in the strike zone, he rarely missed it. Whether that was power to all fields -- that's even last year, when you consider that the first week of July he was leading or at the top of the league in RBI -- and yet he's not in that same spot right now."