SEATTLE – As Edwin Encarnacion was playing in his first minor league rehabilitation game – hitting a grand slam for Triple-A Buffalo in the process – Adam Lind was holding court in the Blue Jays' dugout at Safeco Field, ready to return from a fractured right foot which had kept him out of the lineup for almost five weeks.
“I'm excited to get back and I just want to make this transition as smooth as possible. They've been doing fine without me,” said Lind. “Hopefully, I can just add a little bit here and there and contribute to a couple of more wins.”
Lind's middle-of-the-order, left-handed bat is welcomed against right-handed starting pitching.
Make no mistake, he's a platoon player, but that .369/.434/.570 slash line against righties is a sight for sore eyes and Lind's big league credentials exceed those of any other player who's been involved in the platoons necessitated by his and Encarnacion's absences.
Lind fouled a ball off the top of his right foot on June 14 in Baltimore. He stayed off the disabled list in the immediate, but was out of the starting line-up for a week, making pinch-hit appearances three times from June 19-21.
He continued to play until the July 7 game in Anaheim, when the lingering pain in his foot became too much to bear. An MRI revealed the fracture, Lind was placed on the disabled list and his return initially was estimated at two to three weeks.
“I never thought I had a setback,” said Lind. “I'd just test it and it wasn't ready, test it and it wasn't ready and then finally, about last Tuesday, it was tolerable and it's been about a week, so I'm pretty good to go.”
Lind made one appearance in a rehab game, which happened last Thursday for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. He doubled twice in his two at-bats, but his back, which has given Lind problems over the years, tightened up.
“It was a little worrying because it was in a different spot,” said Lind. “When I finished playing a month ago, my lower back was hurting because I was limping for three weeks. It wasn't just my foot that it hurt, it was my lower back hurt, as well. My upper leg hurt. Then, I rested for a couple of weeks and it went away and I started playing again and it kind of came back, so I had to do some other treatments and that loosened it up and I think it just flared up another part of the back. Now I'm good to go.”
Lind watched Sunday's 19-inning marathon win over Detroit from the comfort of his Florida home. Well, for the most part. He was flipping between the ballgame and the final round of the PGA Championship.
He flew Tampa to Chicago to Seattle on Monday and rejoined his teammates at Safeco Field on Tuesday.
WAGNER TO UNDERGO TOMMY JOHN SURGERY
Reliever Neil Wagner's season is over and he'll be lost for most of 2015. He's scheduled to undergo Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on August 19.
It's hard to be patient at the moment.
“I think once I get through the surgery I'll be fine,” Wagner told TSN.ca in a text message on Tuesday. “It is just the waiting that is tough.”
Wagner's had a trying season. He didn't break camp with the Blue Jays, but was recalled in time for the April 9 game versus Houston, his first day of eligibility after the season-starting 10-day option window closed.
He made nine appearances in April before being optioned back to Buffalo, at which point he began to experience tightness in his right forearm. There was concern at that time about his elbow, but Wagner forged ahead and returned for one more appearance with the Blue Jays, an ugly six-run, 1 1/3-inning performance in a May 14 blowout loss to Cleveland.
He was sent back to Buffalo and has hardly pitched since, unable to overcome the elbow and forearm problems that have resulted in his impending surgery.
Wagner will be 31 next January 1. The timing is tough. He's no longer a young pitcher and has spent most of his career in the minor leagues.
Once healthy, he'd like another kick at the can with the Blue Jays.
“I felt really comfortable in Toronto and with the Jays, so I would love to be back,” he said.