The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Sports

January 14, 2013

Lind likes Blue Jays’ new look

Former Highland star excited to see team gel on field

ANDERSON, Ind. — Adam Lind never has been part of a more talented major league roster.

And he can’t wait to get to work.

Speaking from his home in Florida last week, Lind said he’s excited about the start of spring training next month and the prospects for the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2013 season.

“It’s nice to finally have an elite lineup from top to bottom and an elite pitching staff from top to bottom,” Lind said. “This is the most anticipated season I’ve had in baseball.”

It didn’t look that way in early October.

After a disappointing 73-89 finish, Toronto manager John Farrell left the team to accept his “dream job” with the Boston Red Sox. He was replaced by John Gibbons, who posted a 305-305 record with the Blue Jays between 2004 and 2008.

Then the fun really started.

A blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins brought in starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and shortstop Jose Reyes. A later deal with the New York Mets netted reigning National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, and left fielder Melky Cabrera was added as a free agent from the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Those players join returning center fielder Colby Rasmus, right fielder Jose Bautista, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, third baseman Brett Lawrie, catcher J.P. Arencibia, starting pitcher Ricky Romero and designated hitter Lind in a clubhouse that has powerhouse potential even in the loaded American League East.

Lind recently was in Toronto for a baseball clinic, and he got a taste of the excitement from fans and media.

“Every question was about anticipation and expectations and how excited I am about the trades,” the former Highland High School star said. “It’s the best opportunity I’ve had in my career.”

Lind is coming off a roller coaster season in which he played just 93 games after being demoted to the minors in May and battling through injuries upon his return to the majors. He hit .255 with 11 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .314 on-base percentage.

He’s had limited contact with Gibbons and general manager Alex Anthopoulos during the offseason, with their brief conversations focusing on his health. But he expects to return to a familiar role in the lineup as a designated hitter or first baseman against right-handed pitchers.

“If I perform well enough,” Lind said, “I’ll play every day.”

He’s excited about the speed players such as Bonifacio and Reyes add to lineup. Alongside returning outfielder Rajai Davis and prospect Anthony Gose — who could claim a roster spot after spending last year at Triple A Las Vegas — Lind believes the Blue Jays have one of the fastest teams in the majors.

That should create more RBI opportunities for the big hitters in Toronto’s lineup.

And that’s part of the reason Lind said the excitement isn’t limited to fans and media.

The Blue Jays understand they’ll have a hard fight in a division that produced two playoff teams — the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles — and a third-place team that won 90 games — the Tampa Bay Rays — last season.

But they finally believe they have the full arsenal on hand to compete.

Sprining training will begin about a week earlier this year because of the interruption by the World Baseball Classic, and Lind can’t wait.

“I think it’ll be good to get on the field, be a unit and practice and play together,” he said. “Ever since the Marlins trade happened, it’s been all just talk and excitement and anticipation. It’ll be nice to go out and play.”

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