Jays' turn to get slammed

Mark Reynolds drills a grand slam to lead the Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays (Reuters)

Mark Reynolds drills a grand slam to lead the Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays (Reuters)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

It’s been close to a month but the dream for manager John Farrell has finally come true.

He is once again able to fill out his lineup card with Jose Bautista batting third and Adam Lind batting behind him in the cleanup spot.

Lind batted fourth as the Blue Jays DH in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles, marking the first time he has been in the lineup since he had to leave the May 7 game against Detroit due to lower back pain.

It would be nice to report that Lind’s return was dazzling but that wouldn’t be true. In four at-bats, the left-handed hitter was 0-for-3 with a walk and one strikeout.

This game turned on one swing of the bat in the sixth when the Orioles’ Mark Reynolds hit a grand slam off Ricky Romero that shot the O’s into a 5-3 lead.

The main thing with Lind, however, is he’s back, he’s healthy and the thought of a hot Bautista and a hot Lind batting behind him causes Farrell to break into a grin thinking of the prospects.

Saturday marked the 58th game for the Jays but just the 24th of the season that Bautista and Lind have been together in the lineup.

The addition of Lind cements an added element of danger into a lineup that is shaping up nicely as the season enters its third month.

“It’s obviously good to have Adam Lind’s name in the lineup,” Farrell said of the return of his cleanup hitter. “Somewhat overlooked when he went on the DL is that he was leading the American League in RBIs (27 in 32 games) at the time and to be able to plug your four-hole hitter back in the lineup, and a left-handed hitter that has had very good success, gives us that balance to spread the lineup out a little more with (J.P.) Arencibia and (Juan) Rivera being pushed down a lot (fifth and sixth, respectively). So, it’s good to see Adam back here with us.”

Prior to leaving the May 7 game, Lind had been tearing it up. He had hit safely in 15 of 17 games, going .388 (26-for-67) with six homers and 18 RBIs.

He’s missed a good chunk of time and how quickly he can get back into a groove is anybody’s guess.

“I swung the bat good down there,” Lind said of his three rehab games with class-A Dunedin. “But I hit a couple of balls up the middle and in the big leagues those would be outs. I hope I just take off from where I left off.

“I’ll just go out and hopefully have good at-bats.”

Now that he’s back, the Jays don’t intend to have a repeat of back woes. The plan is to have him split the first-base duties with Rivera and DH the other days.

“I think that’s the smart way to go about it, particularly as well as Juan has played first base,” Farrell said. “We want to be sure we don’t have any setbacks with Adam.”

It turns out that all the extra work that Lind put in familiarizing himself at first during spring training and through the opening month was the culprit.

“Probably just taking 1,000 ground balls in spring training, then the season,” Lind said of the cause of the back woes. “Probably doing too much during batting practice. I’ve got to learn that it’s a long season and I’ve got to save my bullets.”

As a result, he has a different off-field and pre-game routine.

“I’ve got a maintenance program that I do now and I’m only going to take 15 ground balls during batting practice and cut down the number or reps,” Lind said. “Hopefully it won’t affect my play.”

What did he discover viewing his team from afar?

“I learned that this team is a really good team,” he said. “I know we’ve been swinging the bats really well. I just hope I can come in and jell right in there and not ruin the chemistry, hopefully not screw up.”

NO SPOT FOR EDWIN

With the return of Lind and the productive play of Rivera both at first base and at the plate — he’s hitting .323 with seven doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in 15 games at first base — the player who will get squeezed out of playing time is Edwin Encarnacion.

Due to his poor defensive play either at third or first — he leads the team with 11 errors — and the DH spot now filled by either Lind or Rivera, Encarnacion will be reduced to spot starts as the DH and pinch-hitting roles. On top of that, he hasn’t been productive when he’s played, as in 151 at-bats he has just one homer and 10 RBIs.

“There may be those games, depending on how Lind is feeling, if a day is needed he could get a spot at DH. And there could be some pinch-hit duties that come up,” Farrell said. “But with the way that Juan has played (at first) and swung the bat, he’s going to get the majority of the DH at-bats at least at this point.”

 


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