Lind talks about his struggles

On the main site you’ll find today’s notebook with items on Adam Lind and Jose Bautista’s continued struggles at the plate through the first month of the season. Several reporters talked to Lind prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels and since I wasn’t able to get all of into the note I wanted to post the remainder of the interview here. There’s also a lengthy transcript of Saturday’s pre-game scrum with John Farrell, who gave his thoughts on Lind/Bautista, the starting rotation, Rajai Davis and much more.

I found Lind’s interview particularly interesting because in many ways it was the exact opposite of what he said for most of last season. In 2011, most of the talk was about Lind needing to take a more patient approach at the plate and to limit the amount of times he chases balls out of the zone. Now it seems as though the club feels he has gone too far in the other direction and has become too passive at the plate.

The Blue Jays still don’t want Lind chasing bad pitches but they do want him to become more aggressive with pitches in the strikezone. It seems as though they’ve even gone as far to suggest he should stop worrying about walks and instead focus on one pitch that he can drive. That approach is more in line with what former manager Cito Gaston preached during his tenure in Toronto and was something the club got away from in 2011.

At least when it comes to Lind, the club wants him to re-visit that type of approach in the hopes that he can re-discover the 2009 form that saw him become a Silver Slugger Award winner in the American League. Here’s Lind, and also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB

Adam Lind:

On his struggles this season…

“I’ve felt good and thought I’d been doing pretty well up until the Texas series and the first game here. Just staying positive, I’m always trying to get hits, I’ll never throw at-bats away, or not swing the bat in any at-bat.”

You lowered your leg kick, anything else you’ve been working on?

“That’s an on-going process that can change from at-bat to at-bat, or day to day. After my second strikeout (Friday) night I just decided I’m not going to think about anything, I’m just going to let my swing do what it does and I hit the ball in my last two at-bats.

“Obviously it’s been a pretty big struggle, but it’s just part of the game. For whatever reason I have to go through it.”

Approach at the plate…

“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t really swinging the bat the way I’m capable. I mean, I was having good at-bats, seeing pitches, being a bit passive I think, but I had a talk with the staff and they said we don’t care about walks anymore, go up there and swing hard.”

How will that help…

“It definitely makes it a lot easier to get the bat through the zone when you’re just thinking about making contact instead of shortening your leg (kick) or whatever is in your head. You’re not going to change your swing during games, you’ve just got to let it work and as experienced a baseball player as I am, I’ve played since I was five, six years old, it’s amazing how hitting can make you feel like you don’t know anything about it.”

John Farrell:

On rotation exceeding expectations after turmoil late in the spring…

“There was some uncertainty. We spoke in Spring Training and talked about the potential and the talent was clearly there and guys we felt confident in even though they were untested or some of the experiences some of the guys had previous, they were challenged by what they went through a year ago and at the time we were hopeful that through those challenges they learned some things about themselves along the way and through the first 27 games, the starting rotation has not only been consistent but you could point to it as being one of the strengths of this team so far.”

On Morrow and Alvarez…

“It’s rare to be on the road and throw back-to-back shutouts but you can’t take anything away from what guys have done. Those weren’t because of some fluke things that didn’t go their way, we played some very good defence behind both Brandon and Henderson but they pitched exceptionally well. They threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, they were down in the strikezone for the most part, extremely efficient. Against an aggressive swinging club and they forced the hand, they threw strikes early in the count and by doing that they were able to get through nine innings efficiently.”

On not having to face Pujols on Saturday…

“They have a very good lineup with or without Albert in there. Obviously he has been one of the best hitters in the game and maybe the best over the last 10 years. We can’t pitch just to one guy, we’ve got nine guys that we have to face but if Kyle goes out and repeats what the progression has been for him, I think he really took a step forward in his last outing against Texas, particularly with the timing in his delivery and when to get his velocity. It showed up in his increased command and as we’ve said, he is on a good path.”

How does heavy workload from starters help the bullpen?

“I think that’s a main contributor to having a good bullpen. When your starters go deep, guys that come to the mound out of the bullpen don’t come with short rest. They come hopefully more fresh. I don’t want to say it’s a challenge now to make sure guys get enough work because their time is coming again, soon … Anytime a starter walks out for the seventh inning I think we’re not only in a good area but sometimes positive territory in terms of what the rotation is doing.”

Lind starting versus left-handed C.J. Wilson…

“Looking at the matchups he has handled him … We’re not going to run away from Adam against left-handers in its entirety but we still need him to get on track and he’ll get his regular at-bats to do just that.”

What are you seeing lately…

“He went from a year ago being overly aggressive to, I think I mentioned it the other day, to where the pendulum has swung towards too passive with strikes early in the count in an attempt to see more pitches, raise the walk total, which he has. But there is a fine line there and I think a combination of aggressiveness with seeing pitches, we’re striving to get back to.”

Coaching staff telling Lind not to worry about walks…

“We want him to make an impact with the bat. That’s going to come through driving the baseball and that’s going to be aggressive particularly when he gets into leverage counts or advantage counts and that doesn’t mean to expand the zone, that means look at an area and turn the bat loose. We want guys to go in, hit first, slam on the brakes if a pitch is outside the zone and I think he has been a little bit in between a little bit of the times.”

Final two at-bats on Friday a positive?

“Yeah, hopefully those are something to build on. Early on in the season maybe you’re looking for a couple of at-bats where things might click a little bit. We’ve talked about Jose when he sees pitches, he takes a walk, and the next thing you know he feels a little bit better about himself and the bat is a little bit more free and not overswinging it and he drives the ball out of the ballpark. Hopefully the two at-bats last night for Adam puts him in a better frame of mind going into today.”

Jose seeing a lot of quality strikes…

“I think every pitcher that goes up against him is going to try to make quality strikes from the get go because of how aggressive he is and how dominant he has been. I don’t want to say it’s just from the perspective of maybe not having the results for the work being put in but when guys are going well, on the flip side of that you could take a look at Edwin and say, you now what when he gets that one pitch around the plate he’s not missing it because he’s confident, he’s seeing the ball well, the game is kind of slow for him right now and I think Jose will certainly get back to that point and we’re hopeful he picks up from last night.”

Turnaround in this series for Jose from Game 1 vs Game 2…

“There was some discussions throughout the course of Game 1 here, he’s seeing some things, we’re giving feedback to him and I’m not going to say that’s the only reason but the fact that he did something positive, even though it was a walk, it was okay I got on base, I saw some pitches and then he sees him for the first time in Santana last night and gets a first-pitch fastball that he hits out of the ballpark, I think the walk can really just make a guy exhale a little bit and get into the flow of the game.”

Drabek… How do the shutouts from Morrow and Alvarez help him out…

“I would think he has watched the last two games and has gained some confidence in knowing okay there are areas that our scouting reports say we can go to with some level of confidence and yet his style is going to be different from the previous two. He has a good starting point I think in visibly watching the last two games and yet he has a weapon or two that he can do some things a little bit differently than both Henderson or Brandon.

Kyle going back to the cutter vs Texas…

“He threw with a little bit more frequency. I think he found that with their right-handed hitting approach, where they’re trying to stay inside the ball and go the other way, he threw a number of cutters front door into righties to put some guys away. It was an area that kind of opened up, evident by their approach, and how he attacked guys early in the count. There might be a guy or two in this lineup that you might see a similar approach to.”

Rajai healthy..

“He is, he was available last night to pinch run or even go into the outfield. He has bounced back from the slight strain that he felt the other night.”

Does Rajai make Francisco redundant?

“I think Rajai is a very good defender and you look at his career numbers versus left-handers and it’s been solid, .280-.290 type of hitter, when you have five outfielders, there’s probably a skill-set that might matchup better in certain situations. I don’t want to say it’s redundant because I think Ben is a very good pinch-hitter and can sit and come off the bench and DH after four, five days down and produce a low maintenance type of swing. He’s done just that for us.”

Both Oliver and Cordero threw bullpens on Friday…

“If a guy goes three days without getting into a game we’ll get him on the mound for sure. That’s part of a touch-up type thing, could be a 20-25 pitch pen just to get back in touch with the mound and keep their arm-strength.”

When do you decide whether to give your relievers extra work on the side?

“If you get past a certain point in the game where you don’t think you’re going to use that guy on a given night and he hasn’t had those days of work, you’ll get it late in the game, particularly with Monday being an off-day and guys have gone four days now since getting to the mound.”

May give guys some work Sunday

On Omar…

“The thought coming in this series he’d be at shortstop (Sunday), that way it gives Yunel not only (tomorrow) but also Monday off to give him two days down. He’s gone every game for us and yet the last five games, he’s really started to swing the bat well and been in the middle of all our offence. He’ll probably fight me on it but we’ll have a conversation before the end of the day about (Sunday).”

Escobar responding to flipping spots with Johnson…

“There are probably a number of factors that play into it, and it could very well be he was just starting to come out of what he was going through at time. If Kelly gets on we can open some holes for him by putting Kelly in motion, but more importantly we’re starting to see the line drives to centre field, to right-centre field a little bit more frequently. The ground balls are going to be there, that’s the type of hitter he is. I don’t want to over think it, he’s been in the middle of it the last five days.”

Escobar hitting to all fields…

“The one thing the last three games it looks like is he’s not forcing the issue as much. When guys are kind of scuffling a little bit, they might try to make it happen a little too much, or force the issue maybe. He’s been more relaxed and gotten some production, that’s going to slow a guy down and not think he’s got to swing at everything.

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