2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX _ One popular winter time theory making the rounds is that the Toronto Blue Jays, with their off-season moves, made a dramatic change to the clubhouse culture.
Brett Lawrie? Traded.
Juan Francisco, who started more games at third than Lawrie? Long gone.
Anthony Gose? Traded.
“They haven’t changed the culture of the clubhouse,” said Adam Lind — traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in November. “They’re my friends, but the guys who still run it are still there. Jose Bautista is the voice amongst position players and Mark Buehrle runs the starting pitchers.
“There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone,” added Lind with a smile.
Lind sat at his locker on inside the Maryvale Baseball Park Tuesday after a batting practice session facing Brewers batting instructor Darnell Coles, who won a World Series with the 1993 Blue Jays. He also fielded ground balls at first, where manager Ron Roenicke said Tuesday Lind will play every day … “until he shows he can’t hit left-handers.”
Watching from behind the screen was Brewers general manager Doug Melvin(Chatham, Ont.) while assistant GM Gord Ash (Toronto, Ont.) was making phone calls from his upstairs office.
Lind made his major-league debut Sept. 2, 2006, hitting an eighth-inning double off Boston Red Sox reliever Lenny DiNardo in a A.J. Burnett 5-1 complete game win. His final at-bat came in the sixth inning of Game 162 last season when he struck out against Ubaldo Jimenez on Sept. 28.
In all, Lind played 953 games for the Jays from 2006-2014 to sit 12th all-time.
The Jays had a decision to make on Nov. 1 … whether to pick up his $7.5 million US option. Around 10 that morning he received a text from his agent (John Courtright): the Jays would be pick up his option later that day.
“Around noon Alex (Anthopoulos, Jays general manager) phoned and said ‘we’re picking up your option … and by the way,’” Lind explained.
The rest of the by the way? Lind had been dealt to the Brewers for right-hander Marco Estrada.
Lind wasn’t expecting that to happen.
And he wasn’t expecting the news 27 days later either. His pal Lawrie had been dealt to the Oakland A’s with lefty Sean Nolin, right-hander Kendall Graveman and highly regarded prospect Franklin Barreto for Donaldson.
“I was leaving my house (in Palm Harbour, Fla.) when one of our pitchers sent a text with the trade,” said Lind, who added the pitcher typed: “All my friends are leaving.”
His best memory as a Jay was hitting a walk-off homer against Baltimore Orioles reliever Koji Uehara June 14, 2011 before 15,592 at the Rogers Centre.
“And playing on Canada Day, those games were always special,” said Lind. “We always had a sold-out crowd, always wore red CANADA jerseys and always played in the day — I love day games. There was electricity in the air.”
His worst experience?
“Playing with a broken foot,” Lind said quickly. He fouled a ball off his foot June 13, played 18 games before an MRI showed had a broken bone in his foot.
“I hit OK (.289, three doubles, a homer, nine RBIs), but I couldn’t run and my whole body ached,” Lind said.
The 31-year-old, left-handed hitter says Travis Snider was his closest friend during his Jays days.
“He was real, genuine, cared about my family and myself,” said Lind. “We had some talks on a deeper level.”
Lind has only been in camp four days and knows only a few players. He says he’ll miss Toronto: the lights, the restaurants (Sotto Sotto, The Chase and Korean BBQ), his breakfast place (Music Garden Cafe) or taking teammates like former teammates Corey Patterson, Joe Inglett or Lawrie home for diner.
How many times should the Jays have been in post-season play during Lind’s nine seasons?
He mentions 2008 and 2010, “we finished strong both years (32-22 the final two months in 2008; 31-27 in 2010) and notes how the Jays were second in the American League East in 2006, “but it wasn’t close (10 games out).”
What about 2014 when the Jays sat in front place for 61 days?
Lind said that the Jays “kind of limped home and we benched out centre fielder the final month,” going 23-29 the final two months.
Lind said he was only spoken to by Gibbons on the manager’s first tour when he was called in to be demoted, described Cito Gaston as “awesome,” John Farrell as the “most prepared manager he’d ever seen,” (“relations were good with player, but you have to remember, he was a former pitcher”) and Gibbons 2.0 was “very intense — only in 2014.”
Lind said he liked them all, but when it came to “knowledge and compatibility,” the best were Tenace, Murphy and Mottola.
Although he was not in Houston when the July 31 trade deadline came and went without the Jays making a move — despite Edward Rogers, Rogers Communications deputy chair, and president Paul Beeston telling players “the funds will be there” if the Jays are close at the deadline at the annual end-of-spring training pep rally/banquet. Both Casey Janssen and Bautista knocked management.
“Casey is the biggest competitor there is, he was tired of hearing the same thing each year,” Lind said. “He didn’t want to leave Toronto.”
Lind said Janssen didn’t want to sign with Washington.”
Is Rogers Communications a good owner?
“They have a top 10 payroll,” he answered, “there’s something to be said for that.
“I’d like to come back and work for the team when I’m finished playing.”
Lind’s All-Star Teammates
C Bengie Molina “He had a great year in 2006.”
1B Edwin Encarnacion “He has two all-star selections and averaged 37 homers the last three years.”
2B Aaron Hill “He won a Silver Slugger.”
3B Scott Rolen “The best defensive third baseman I’ve ever seen.”
SS Alex Gonzalez: “He raked for us _ almost had 20 homers before the break in 2010 and then we traded him to Atlanta.”
OFs: LF Melky Cabrera “He had a big year in 2014, 171 hits.”
CF Vernon Wells “One of the best players in the history of the franchise.”
RF Jose Bautista “Some of the top numbers I’ve ever seen in a season.”
Starters: RHP Roy Halladay “He had a tremendous workout … plus he was good.”
RHP Shaun Marcum “Give the ball to him, any where, any time.”
RHP R.A. Dickey “The second half of his last two seasons have been phenomenal (13-7, 3.57).”
RP Alex Sanchez “We didn’t have a lot of home grown guys come up. He’s out best organizational player I’ve ever seen.”
Where Lind numbers ranks amongst Jays hitters
Games: 953, 12th.
At-bats: 3,407, 12th.
Hits: 931, 10th
Doubles: 196, 10th
Home runs: 146, 9th
RBIs: 519th, 8th.
Average: .273, 44th.
On-base: .327, 57th.
Slugging: .466, 28th.
OPS: .795, 39th.