Lind adjusting to his new life as a DH
Slugger hasn't established routine, but early results favorable
TORONTO -- Designated hitters are often creatures of routine. During his stint with the Blue Jays, Frank Thomas would head into the clubhouse after an at-bat to ride a stationary bike in order to occupy the time before his next trip to the plate.
Other players filling that role will move into the tunnel behind their dugout to take some swings or to the video room to break down footage of their last stop in the batter's box. On Monday night, during his first game of the season as Toronto's primary DH, Adam Lind didn't do any of these things.
It's fair to say that Lind hasn't established a routine just yet.
"I just sat there all game and drank water," Lind said with a laugh.
Over the course of the season, Lind will likely adopt some kind of ritual for the time between his plate appearances, but it will take time for him to figure out what works best. The 25-year-old Lind has served as the DH in spurts over the past three seasons with the Blue Jays, but it is now his main responsibility this year.
The DH role is one traditionally held by more veteran sluggers -- players such as Boston's David Ortiz, Oakland's Jason Giambi or Chicago's Jim Thome. That makes Lind a rarity: a young player asked to focus mainly on just hitting. Only Kansas City's Billy Butler, who will turn 23 later this month, is a younger DH than Lind.
Lind will still see some occasional action in left field, but that spot is now filled by Travis Snider, Toronto's top prospect. With veterans Vernon Wells and Alex Rios in center and right field, respectively, Lind has been forced out of the outfield. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston made sure Lind was content with serving as the DH this year.
"I kind of got a head start on that last year," Gaston said. "At the end of the season, I started talking to him about DHing and if he liked it or not. 'Would you prefer to play in the field?' He said he'd prefer to play out there, but he's not opposed to being the DH -- anything that he can do to be in the big leagues to help this club.
"He's going to play in the outfield sometimes, but he's fine with it. I went back to him in Spring Training and talked to him some more, because you want to see guys somewhat happy with where they're playing. He's happy with it."
Lind, who has hit .291 in 31 career games as a designated hitter, certainly took to the role on Opening Day against the Tigers on Monday. The left-handed-hitting Lind finished 4-for-5 at the plate with a home run and six RBIs. Lind's four hits tied a Toronto franchise record for Opening Day and the six runs he drove in established a new club mark for a season opener.
Beyond just sitting on the bench, Lind said he also discussed his offensive approach with Gaston between his at-bats.
Gaston said Lind might consider keeping the routine he went with against Detroit.
"Whatever he did last night, just do that," Gaston said with a laugh. "I think it's going to be something where he has to find what he needs to do. I didn't really pay attention to what he was doing last night. Whatever he did, try it again tonight and see what happens."
Asked if he might pull a stationary bike back into the clubhouse to copy Thomas' approach, Lind laughed.
"He's definitely a professional DH. He had his routine," Lind said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to get knocks. If it takes riding a bike, I'll ride a bike."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.