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MacArthur: For Lind, process has led to results

Scott MacArthur
6/15/2013 1:13:34 PM
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Adam Lind has a problem. It's an issue he'll gladly deal with.

Entering Saturday's play, since May 1, Lind is hitting a red hot .373, his on-base percentage .417. He's been the Blue Jays' most consistent hitter.

So what's the matter?

"I've done more interviews about my hitting in the last few weeks than in the last three years," Lind joked.

He'd prefer to locker in a corner and toil in anonymity. He's enjoying his recent run but he knows, from first-hand experience, success can be fleeting.

Lind, 29, has seen the high of 35 home runs, 114 RBI, career-high power numbers he set in 2009. The low would come in 2012, a little more than a year ago now, when he was designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster.

The relationship with hitting coach Chad Mottola has been critical to Lind's turnaround. The two first got to know each other well in 2006 as teammates at Triple-A Syracuse. Then, in September of that season, both were playing in Toronto – Lind getting his first taste of big league ball, Mottola as a veteran journeyman.

Mottola retired to become the Blue Jays' roving hitting instructor. He watched, occasionally up close and sometimes from afar, as Lind thrived.

When it all fell apart, Mottola reminded Lind of the need to get back to what was working.

"I like to work with what's working good rather than talk about the bad," said Mottola. "When Adam came down last year he had a little bit of doubt in his mind if he could still do this but I was convinced he could. So having the relationship we had where I could look him in the eye and say, I promise you, you still have it in you and we'll slow the game down to help you out to do it."

Lind had become a dead pull hitter. He was flying open through his swing, leaving Lind exposed to breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Mottola wanted him to stay through the ball but Lind worried his body had changed, he was bigger, and he wouldn't be able to adjust.

The work continued through spring training and into April. Lind started the year 0-for-14. Mottola preached the process and by the end of the month, Lind had walked 12 times and despite a batting average of .244, had an OBP of .397. He'd yet to hit a home run (Lind now has six – four in May and two in June) but the signs were there.

"I think at the beginning there definitely was a power sacrifice," said Mottola. "I think at the beginning, when he was walking so much, the goal was to see pitches to make 90 (miles per hour) look 90 again rather than make 90 look 120. Until we did that it didn't matter and now that he's hitting from a better place the power's been fine ever since the first 70 or 80 at bats that he was taking walks and slowing the game down."

Lind, in the final guaranteed year of his contract, is looking to have a $7-million option picked up for 2014.

For the time being, he's gone from reclamation project to a key piece of the middle of the Blue Jays' order.


JOHNSON'S NEXT START RESCHEDULED AGAIN

Josh Johnson, initially scheduled to pitch on Saturday before being rescheduled to Sunday, will now start on Monday.

The 6'7" right-hander is dealing with a painful blister on his right middle finger.

"They want to try to let it completely heal so it doesn't become a problem," said manager John Gibbons. "The thinking too is down here, as hot as it is and as wet as you're going to be sweating all the time, you might make it worse."

Johnson aggravated the blister playing catch on Thursday.


INJURY UPDATES

- Jose Reyes: Played a simulated, two-inning game in Dunedin on Friday. Had three at bats and played shortstop.

Reyes is expected to play for Class-A Dunedin on Monday evening at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. First pitch is 6:30pm et.

- Brandon Morrow: Threw a 40-pitch bullpen session in Dunedin on Friday. Expected to make first rehab start, for Class-A Dunedin, on Monday evening.

- Brett Lawrie: Expected to come out of his walking boot in the next day or two.

- Sergio Santos: Threw long toss on Friday. Expected to throw a bullpen session, in Dunedin, on Tuesday or Wednesday.

- Kyle Drabek (Tommy John Surgery – June, 2012) will pitch in an intra-squad game on Tuesday.

- Drew Hutchison (Tommy John Surgery – August, 2012) has thrown live batting practice and will pitch in a simulated game on Tuesday.


ENCARNACION DESERVES ALL-STAR CONSIDERATION

Never before an All-Star, Edwin Encarnacion deserves to represent the Blue Jays and compete for the American League at next month's Midsummer Classic in New York City.

"Right now I'm not thinking about that," said Encarnacion. "I'm just thinking about winning games, that's what we need right now. We've been struggling, winning games, so I'm focused right now on that. If the All-Star comes, good. If not, all right."

Encarnacion, 30, leads the Blue Jays with 18 home runs and 55 RBI. He's on pace to break his personal bests in the two categories (42, 110) set last season.

He's proven to be a clutch hitter. To wit: Encarnacion is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with four home runs, three doubles and 21 RBI batting with runners in scoring position and two outs.

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