Blue Jays batter Adam Lind hits a home run against the Royals at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., July 3, 2012. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)
TORONTO - If the Toronto Blue Jays happen to be looking for a poster child to represent the misery that is their 2012 season, they could easily settle on Adam Lind.
The first baseman/designated hitter has gone through a season where he couldn’t hit his weight, was demoted, placed on waivers and left open for any team to take him — none did — dropped from the 40-man roster, went on the DL with upper back problems (missing 29 games) and now is left to play out a season from hell and look forward to an off-season where no doubt his name will continue to pop up in trade rumours.
All this just three seasons removed from a year where he, along with Aaron Hill, were considered to be the Golden Boys and the future cornerstones of the franchise.
Hill was traded away in 2011 to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Lind may be counting his days as well.
In Wednesday’s victory over Baltimore, Lind, serving as the DH, went 1-for-4 with a run scored. On the season he is hitting .232 (55-for-237) with nine homers, 32 RBIs and a shockingly low nine doubles,
Somehow, though, he manages to smile and laugh when talking about a season he’d prefer to erase from his memory banks.
“I think I’ve shown a lot of character this year having gone through the option and the designation and getting hauled back up,” the 29-year-old Lind said of his yo-yo season. “I’ve played pretty much all three levels in the minor leagues this year — high-A (Dunedin), double-A (New Hampshire) and triple-A (Las Vegas). I bounced back. I’ve done OK in my second stint in the big leagues this year, definitely better than the first month and a half.”
That’s not saying a whole lot, though. When he was sent to the minors on May 17, he had just three homers and 11 RBIs in 34 games and was hitting .186.
It remains the low point of his Blue Jays career but one he now fully understands.
“That was a little surprising,” he said of being placed on waivers. “I wasn’t surprised getting optioned. We needed some offence and I definitely I wasn’t helping the team when I got sent down. So it wasn’t that big of a surprise to me when they called me in and gave me the good news.”
He takes pride in the way he has handled all the setbacks that his year has delivered.
“Not just for me, but for the team,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done the best that I can do (in handling the situation mentally) with the fact that I got sent down and I didn’t go down there and complain. I understood why I was there but at the same time I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to do as well as I could to get back up here as soon as I could.
“I’m not having an all-star second half but I think I’ve been a productive big-leaguer since I’ve been called up at the end of June.”
Still, Lind is a far way away from being the player who in 2009 slugged 35 home runs and drove in 114 runs. He has a guaranteed contract that will pay him $5 million in 2013, but after that there are a series of club options.
At this point he has no way of knowing if he’ll be back next season that the winds of change may blow hm out.
“Our GM is creative and no one knows what he’s thinking because he doesn’t tell anyone,” Lind said of the secretive Alex Anthopoulos. “I hope I’m here next year. I’d love to be here next year. I think this team has a bright future in front of us. As tough as this season has been, I think it will help us out next year.
“I think I still offer a lot to this team.”
His goals for the end of the season?
“Try to get to .250,” he replied.
When teased that hitting .250 doesn’t sound like much of a goal he laughed.
“Well, not at the beginning of the season, but when you go down and you’re hitting .180, considering that, I’ve raised my batting average 50 points, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
He wants to make sure he stays headed that way.
WIVES A PROBLEM FOR FREE AGENTS?
Adam Lind believes that when it comes to the Blue Jays acquiring free agent talent, one of the hurdles they face comes from the female side of the equation: A player’s wife.
Flying to a foreign country such as Canada, in the wake of the added layers of security in the aftermath of 9/11, has become a pain in the butt for all involved including the families of major league players. It’s an added hassle that many just don’t want to have on their plate.
The topic was brought up by Lind during the course of an interview when he said: “In a season like this you figure out who wants to be here and who doesn’t.”
When asked to explain what he meant by that, Lind followed up with: “Toronto is a tough place to play for a lot of people. Wives ... I don’t know if I should get into this. It’s a foreign country, we have the turf field. It makes our general manager have to put in a lot of homework.
“As we saw this past season, Carlos Beltran (a free-agent outfielder) didn’t want to come here because of the turf. For players who have wives and kids, you just can’t get off the plane and go about your business, you have to stand in the customs lines so a lot of free agent player’s wives don’t want to come here. So if the wife doesn’t want to come here, that means the player doesn’t want to come here.”
Does Toronto have a bad rap because of that?
“I don’t know if it’s a bad rap, it’s just the way it is,” he said. “You can’t do anything about it.”
Lind, by the way, doesn’t have that problem as his wife, Lakeyshia, is a Toronto native.