Aaron Hill and Adam Lind were a dynamic one-two punch for the Blue Jays a year ago, thriving in the heart of the order and cruising to Silver Sluggers awards.
This season, they’ve been more of a one-two punch to the gut for Toronto’s all-or-nothing offense. With the Jays still exceeding expectations as the All-Star break nears, it makes one wonder where the team would be with even average production from the pair of struggling sluggers.
Talking to Hill, he has said throughout this season that it is best for him to just keep going with his same routine, avoiding messing with the type of consistent approach that helped him to such a great season last year.
Asked about his issues at the plate, Lind is quick to say that sometimes it feels like he is trying something new every day. That is a big contrast to Hill’s reply, and manager Cito Gaston was asked which approach — staying consistent or trying a bunch of different things — offered the better chances of turning things around.
Gaston answered by discussing Lind’s current state of mind…
“He’s got to figure that out for himself,” Gaston said. “Sure, he probably feels that way. I’ve talked to him more about the mental part of the game — not much about [mechanics]. One thing I will talk to him about is getting ready, and I still don’t think he’s getting ready on time. But, once again, he’s got to feel it.
“I think that’s why you have super, super stars and guys that are just stars, or whatever. The super star gets it back right away. They don’t lose it that long. With Lind, he’s probably listening to [hitting coach Dwayne Murphy] and he’s listening to everybody and he’s listening to me.”
Entering Tuesday’s game in Cleveland, Lind was hitting .204 with a .265 on-base percentage and a .344 slugging percentage. The left-handed hitter was averaging one strikeout per 5.3 at-bats, compared to one every 3.7 at-bats on average in 2009. Lind had a .169 average with two strikes, a .213 mark with runners in scoring position and had only managed to work to a 3-1 count 13 times this year, going 0-for-7 in those situations.
Asked for his thoughts on what he has seen from his team over the first three months, Gaston immediately heaped praise on the Blue Jays’ young rotation. As far as Gaston is concerned, the starting staff is in a position to be one of the game’s elite groups in the next few years.
“What I see is that this organization,” Gaston began, “we’re going to be able to stand up and say, ‘You know what? We have as good of a rotation as any team in baseball.’ That’s what I see happening right here, right now, with these kids that are pitching now. This is just going to get better.
“Now, we need to maybe add some hitters in here, too — some different hitters for next year. I mean, all these guys are not going to be back here for sure. To get better, I think we’re in the right direction as far as the pitching and I think [the hitting] is where you have to get better, and we’ve got to do a little bit in the bullpen, too.”