No kid gloves for Lind

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

DUNEDIN The glove is shiny. Its new. Take a picture, Adam Lind, because it wont be that way for long.

Odds are, by the end of spring training, if Brian Butterfield has his way, that first basemans mitt, stiff and fresh off the assembly line, will look like one of Lou Gehrigs leftovers.

Once he arrives at Blue Jays camp this weekend, Butterfield, the third base coach and one of the best infield instructors in the game, will have many tasks, but none more important than the apprenticeship of Adam Lind, first baseman.

Lind is looking forward to the challenge.

I imagine Butter will work on just about every scenario possible with me, said Lind after taking his first infield practice of the spring.

The thing Im most excited about is to be able to help the team in more than one way. Its a way I can help the team even when I might not have a great game in the batters box.

But dont ask Lind about how steep the learning curve will be or what will be his most difficult challenge in mastering a position he hasnt played since college.

I dont think I can answer that yet, he said. Its pretty simple right now: I just field ground balls and throw. Ask me that again in the middle of May and I might have five things to tell you.

Its a basic position as far as what you need to accomplish. You have to turn all the plays, as long as you block the ball, you still have a good chance to get an out. You cant overcomplicate things.

Thats something I need to learn.

There is a body of thought that believes that by having a defensive position, Linds hitting might improve simply because he doesnt have all that extra time to fret about it in between at-bats. Thats a hard theory to prove, given that in 2009 Lind was the best DH in baseball and that last year was a bit of a mess.

It will definitely get my mind off of (hitting), he said. Im not going to approach things any different on how I hit. Its just that my time management will be different in between at-bats.

As far as hitting goes, Lind went back, as he always does, to his roots this winter. That would be his hometown of Anderson, Ind., where his lifelong coach and mentor, Mike Shirley, runs youth baseball clinics.

Lind has known Shirley since he was 11 years old and works with some of the local 14 and 15 year-olds every Monday night, helping teach with an hour of hitting followed by an hour of fielding. Shirley, who bird-dogs for the Chicago White Sox, knows about as much about Linds swing as Lind does and offered some opinions.

He thinks that my swing has changed because Im so much bigger across here, said Lind, indicating his chest.

When I got to the big leagues, I was 190 pounds and now Im at 225 pounds. (Shirley) said Ive gotten so bulky that it has altered my swing. Now Im working on keeping my shoulders back a little bit and standing more upright because my shoulders have rolled forward a bit.

It frees my hands up and it has felt good in the cage. Well see throughout the spring. Hopefully, my private hitting instructor he works for free knows what hes talking about.

Hes produced probably 20 kids who have gotten scholarships, probably seven kids who have been drafted.

But only one Adam Lind, proud owner of three first base gloves.

One I probably wont use, my old one and a new one that I used today, he said.

If the Lind experiment is successful, it gives the Blue Jays some flexibility, given that Lind could be under control for the next six seasons. In many ways, it might be the most important development of this camp.

I imagine I might play every game these next six weeks, said Lind. It kind of reminds me of the minor leagues where they know you can hit, so they say your most important job right now is to learn the defence. If youre tired for the game, too bad.

Tired? Lind will learn a lot about tired staring down the barrel of Brian Butterfields fungo starting just about now.


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