This season, Adam Lind has gone from the cleanup spot in the Toronto Blue Jays’ batting order, to being pinch hit for in the late innings, to the eighth hole and, on Thursday, shipped to the minor leagues.
The once-promising first baseman/left fielder/designated hitter will take his .186 batting average and .273 on-base percentage from 34 games this season to AAA Las Vegas, where he hopes to regain a swing that produced 35 home runs and a .305 average in 2009.
"Obviously, he’s gotten off to a slow start this season. We tried multiple things to try to get him going," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "This was an opportunity for him to clear his head and be in a [less-pressured] environment where he can work on things.
"[He's] not the first player to go through it. We had to do this with [current team home run leader] Edwin Encarnacion two years ago."
Encarnacion's AAA stint lasted about 10 days and he hasn't looked back. He led the Blue Jays in average (.281), homers (13) and RBIs (34) entering Thursday's series finale against the visiting New York Yankees.
"If you look at the numbers when he went down there he performed incredibly well," to the tune of three home runs, 13 RBIs in seven games along with a .438 batting average and .486 on-base percentage.
"It would have been easy for him to go and hang his head. He had a guaranteed contract," said Anthopoulos. "[But 51s officials] said he was the hardest-working guy on that team, putting in tons of hours in the [batting] cage and very driven and motivated to get back [to the major leagues]. He earned his way back up here. It'll be up to Adam."
Lind, 28, managed three home runs and 11 RBIs the past six weeks with Toronto, and has just six hits in 13 games this month.
Gomes can play 1B, 3B
Summoned from the 51s is catcher Yan Gomes, who will play third base Thursday in place of the suspended Brett Lawrie. Lawrie announced Wednesday he was appealing his four-game ban for throwing his helmet in the direction of umpire Bill Miller but had a change of heart Thursday and will serve his suspension.
'I think Adam's swing is fine. We don't see anything [wrong] from a mechanical standpoint.' — Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos on Adam Lind
Lind started last season like 2009, hitting .300 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in his first 67 games. But his game fell off after the all-star break as the six-foot-two, 210-pounder hit only .197 over his final 58 starts with a .233 OBP, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs.
"I think Adam's swing is fine," Anthopoulos said. "We [Blue Jays management/coaches] don't see anything [wrong] from a mechanical standpoint. You can tell when a player is starting to press. Adam cares as much as anybody.
"It was wearing on him, you could see it with his play on the field, his body language. I know he hasn't slept well."
The GM said Lind understood the team's decision, realizing he must perform at a higher level. "Sometimes a demotion is needed."
As for the 24-year-old Gomes, he hit .359 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season with 12 doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs over 33 contests. He also played third base this season.
Gomes is set to become the first Brazilian-born player to appear in a major league game.
Anthopoulos wouldn't commit to how long Gomes will remain with the Blue Jays, adding the team could make additional roster moves when Lawrie is eligible to rejoin the team on May 21.
Veteran infielder Omar Vizquel could start a game at third in Lawrie's absence, Anthopoulos noted, but "we're not ready to hand anyone everyday at-bats."
As for potential replacements at first should Lind not return to Toronto in the foreseeable future, Anthopoulos said David Cooper and Mike McDade are internal candidates for promotion. Both are on the club's 40-man roster.
Cooper, who had a couple of stints with the Jays last season, is hitting .300 at Las Vegas with four homers in 35 games.
McDade has been a standout with AA New Hampshire in 2012. In 36 games, he's hitting .331 with a .405 OBP and five homers, four of which have come this month during which McDade his hitting over .400.