It was a move the Toronto Blue Jays needed to make: after a poor start to the season, first baseman/DH Adam Lind has been relegated to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Lind has been with the Blue Jays since 2006 and hit the heights with a Silver Slugger award after hitting .305 with 35 home runs and 114 RBI in 2009. Since then it’s been all downhill; this season he’s batting a paltry .186 with three homers and 11 ribbies in 34 games. The 28-year-old also has 14 walks and 24 strikeouts along with the lowest OPS (on-base plus slugging) percentage of any of the Blue Jays regulars at .586.
In Lind’s place the club has called up 24-year-old Yan Gomes, who will now be the first Brazilian-born player to appear in the major leagues. This is more than a novelty move, though: the 24-year-old catcher/infielder is leading the Las Vegas 51s with a .351 batting average and 74 total bases in 33 games.
The prospect has also chipped in five homers, 22 RBI and 12 doubles in that time. His plate discipline needs some work, as his six walks and 26 strikeouts indicate. Still, despite the reality that he’s playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, the numbers Gomes is posting (along with Lind’s decline) warrant a look at him, however brief, at the major-league level.
This could also be preparing the way for the return to the major leagues of Vladimir Guerrero, recently signed by the Jays to a minor-league deal so the 37-year-old slugger could get himself into game shape.
This should not be a surprise to anyone, including Lind. He had been moved down to to eighth in the batting order by manager John Farrell because of his bat; simply put, more offense is expected from a first baseman in the bigs than Lind was offering. The club already has the blazing-hot Edwin Encarnacion, who can play first base (somewhat) and currently is among the league leaders in homers with 13.
Ballplayers are sent to the minors all the time to figure out their swings and get their game back on track. Given his numbers, Lind certainly qualified for a rethink and some retooling. Some might argue that this is a loyalty issue, but the Jays have appeared to give Lind every chance to figure things out and he simply hasn’t done it. For the $5 million he’s being paid both this season and next, the club has every right to expect more from a player like Adam Lind.
UPDATE: Yan Gomes will be starting at third base after Brett Lawrie decided to drop his appeal of a four-game suspension imposed by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig after Lawrie used his batting helmet to hit umpire Bob Miller after being thrown out of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.