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Jays' Lind aims to regain his old hitting form

The SportsXchange

Adam Lind is remembered for his stellar 2009 season.

If only he could get back to the way he was hitting then, the lament goes among the Toronto Blue Jays' following.

He does not have to go that far back, really. If Lind could hit the way he did in the first part of 2011 before he was hampered by a back injury, that would be pretty good, too.

There are signs of that Lind returning to that during spring training.

He was batting .400 with one home run, six RBI and a 1.008 on-base-plus-slugging percentage through 40 at-bats. Lind, 29, reached base in each of his first 15 games before going 0-for-3 on March 20.

Lind said he liked where he was with his hitting.

"When I feel good, the bat path is there," he said. "I can tell by my batting practice whether my swing's right, where it should be. When your bat path is good, your head's in a good spot, your body's in a good spot, you take more balls (and) pitcher's pitches. You'll swing at the balls that are over the plate."

Back in 2011, he was batting .313 with a .343 on-base percentage and a .516 slugging percentage after 32 games. He had seven homers with 27 RBI before he left the May 7 game with a back problem, and he did not return until June. Lind picked it up with 25 hot games in June, batting .311/.385/.644 with nine homers and 22 RBI.

He began to slide in July but still reached the All-Star break batting .300/.349/.515 with 16 homers with 52 RBI. He tailed off in the second half and finished the season batting .251/.295/.439 with 26 homers and 87 RBI in 125 games. He was limited to 17 games in the final month of the season.

Part of the reason for the back problems might have been his move to first base after being an outfielder and designated hitter, so Lind worked on his conditioning but still struggled last season. To make it worse, he began to get mixed messages about what his approach should be at the plate from various levels of the Blue Jays organization. That had him further confused.

He struggled so much early in the season that he was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he worked with hitting coach Chad Mottola, who has the big-league job this year.

In 59 games after returning from the minors last June 25, Lind batted .296/.339/.473 with eight homers and 34 RBI despite missing nearly a month with a back strain. His final batting average was .255/.314/.414 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI in 93 games.

He has made yoga part of his program and so far has had a healthy camp.

"I've had no back pain at all," he said. "Last year this time, maybe a week prior to this, I missed a week of camp with back pain. I've been pain-free this whole camp."

And that could be the key right there.
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