06/22/08 7:22 PM ET
Lind's callup will lead to everyday role
Blue Jays outfielder went 1-for-19 during brief stint in April
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Davis motioned to Chip Cannon -- seated next to Lind -- and said, "You're going to first base." Davis then turned to Lind and added, "You're going to Pittsburgh." Lind was initially confused, trying to sort out the instructions he and Cannon had just been given.
That was until Lind realized he was getting a call to join the Blue Jays again.
"I was kind of shocked," Lind said with a laugh. "I didn't know what he meant."
Lind found out soon enough, landing in Pittsburgh on Saturday and being inserted into the starting lineup as Toronto's left fielder for Sunday's finale against the Pirates. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that's going to be a common role for Lind from now on.
"We want this kid to play every day, if we can," Gaston said. "We want to try to play him most of the time. He's hit everywhere he's been. You guys know him a little bit from last year. He didn't do too well here, but we think he's going to come back and be one of our top players."
It was an unanticipated promotion for the 24-year-old Lind, who wasn't sure when he'd be back with the Jays. In a stint with Toronto earlier this year, Lind struggled offensively and was promptly sent back to the Minor Leagues before he could break free of his slump.
Then, two days after Lind was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse, the Blue Jays acquired veteran outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench on May 9. The addition of that pair, along with the presence of left fielder Shannon Stewart, had Lind doubting he'd get another call soon.
"I definitely didn't know when I'd be up ever again," Lind said. "But, fortunately, I'm back up here."
Following Saturday's game, the Jays optioned Mench to Triple-A to clear some more playing time for Lind. Stewart is currently on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle and it's unclear how much more time he'll miss. That leaves Wilkerson, who Gaston still intends on playing in left on occasion.
Lind was called up to the Jays on April 26 -- less than a week after the club released designated hitter Frank Thomas -- and the outfielder played in just six games before being sent down. In those few appearances, Lind went just 1-for-19 at the plate for Toronto's slumping offense.
"No matter who you are, you'd like to be here as long as possible," Lind said. "But they needed a couple of hitters and I wasn't getting the job done. They sent me back to Triple-A and I had to accept that assignment, and I just went back there and did what I had to do."
In 51 games with Syracuse this season, Lind was batting .328 with six home runs and 50 RBIs. The left-handed hitter had 17 doubles and boasted a .394 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging percentage. Lind also hit at a .443 clip with runners in scoring position.
"I tried to slow my tempo down and things like that," Lind said of his time in the Minors. "You know, take more balls and swing at more strikes and just command the strike zone. The same thing as last year. It's gotten a lot better than it was."
Last season, Lind spent 89 games with the Jays, filling in for an injured Reed Johnson, who is now with the Cubs. In that stint, Lind hit .238 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs. While Lind's power production was good, his average was well below his potential.
The Jays are hoping a prolonged stay with the club this time around can help Lind show what he's capable of doing as a hitter.
"I think he's one of the kids that's going to be a part of the future of this club," Gaston said. "He's going to get a chance to play."
Lind went 2-for-3 with an RBI on Sunday in an 8-5 win over the Pirates, including a solo homer to center field to lead off the fourth inning.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.