CHICAGO -- Travis Snider has shown plenty of signs of life with his bat of late for the Blue Jays, and one positive trend has been the young outfielder's production against left-handed pitchers.
"Some of the hardest balls he's hit this year have been off left-handers," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "I see him getting around on pitches he wasn't getting around on last year. He's staying [back] a little bit longer on the changeup, too."
During Friday's 7-4 win over the White Sox, the left-handed Snider went 2-for-3 against Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle. Entering Saturday, Snider was hitting .368 (7-for-19) against lefties, compared to .200 (15-for-75) against right-handers. Last year, Snider hit .225 (9-for-40) against southpaws.
Overall, Snider has hit at a .467 clip over his past eight games with eight extra-base hits (two home runs and six doubles). During that time period, Snider's season average has climbed from .125 to .234.
Despite stumble, Gregg thriving for Jays
CHICAGO -- Kevin Gregg finally flinched. On Friday night, the Blue Jays closer suffered his first blown save of the season, providing the first setback in what has mainly been a strong Toronto debut for the ninth-inning specialist.
In the end, Gregg's brief lapse did not cost much, considering the Blue Jays went on to claim a 7-4 victory over the White Sox in 12 innings. Still, the fact remains -- despite the game-tying solo homer that Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski launched off Gregg to open the ninth -- the closer is feeling comfortable again on the mound.
The same could not be said last year, when Gregg fought through an ailing left knee throughout an inconsistent campaign as the closer for the Cubs. Gregg underwent surgery on the knee prior to the 2009 season and pitched through discomfort in stretches.
"He said it probably felt good half the time," Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton said. "He couldn't put a lot of pressure on the front of it, get over it and get the ball down. At times, at the end, right when [he] let go of the ball, he would hurt a little bit."
That is no longer the case for Gregg.
"Oh, yeah. It's completely different," Gregg said. "It was just little things that I did where I felt OK with it, but I knew it wasn't completely right. Walking down stairs, I could feel it last year. Now, I don't feel anything.
"Just getting strength completely, all the way through, it's stronger and [more] stable when I land. You're not wobbling when you're trying to throw."
The home run that Pierzynski belted off Gregg on Friday marked the first long ball allowed by the right-hander this season. A year ago, Gregg yielded 13 home runs, which was tied for the most given up by a Major League reliever. Gregg blew seven saves in '09 with the Cubs, but Friday was his first blown save in nine chances so far this year.
Entering Saturday's tilt against the White Sox, Gregg had a 1.20 ERA with 18 strikeouts and four walks over 15 innings for the Blue Jays. Gregg said he has been working on his two-seam, sinking fastball with Walton, who added that the big right-hander has shown a strong breaking ball up to this point.
More than anything, though, Gregg is finally feeling healthy again.
"There's so much force going into the ground when you land on that front leg," Gregg said. "That's what I was doing, and I couldn't absorb all that in there. Now, it's fine. The biggest thing now is that recovery is quicker, too."
Lind trying to adjust to match pitchers
CHICAGO -- Since the first days of Spring Training, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has said that pitchers were likely going to approach Adam Lind differently this season. Toronto's designated hitter is now seeing what Gaston was talking about.
Lind entered Saturday's game against the White Sox mired in an ugly slump -- one that has featured more strikeouts than usual for the left-handed DH. Through Friday, Lind was actually tied for the American League lead with 36 strikeouts this season.
"They're getting the ball more to his weakness," Gaston said. "They're trying to stay up in the strike zone, which is a pitch he has to lay off. He'll foul it straight back, but he doesn't really make contact. And they'll try to get him to chase breaking balls."
Over his past 10 games, Lind has hit just .108 (4-for-37) with 12 strikeouts. Lind did not start Friday's game, but he entered as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning and finished 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the Jays' 7-4, 12-inning win over the Sox. Over his last 18 games, Lind's average has tumbled to .237 from .333.
It was the type of lull that Lind avoided throughout last season, when he hit .305 with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs for the Blue Jays. Over 151 games in 2009, Lind averaged one strikeout per 5.3 at-bats, finishing with 110 on the year. So far this season, Lind has struck out once every 3.3 at-bats on average.
"They're going to pitch you different if you have a year like he had last year," Gaston said. "As a player myself, my All-Star year, the second half they pitched me different. So I know that from experience. He'll come out of it."
Lewis' miscue doesn't hinder Jays
CHICAGO -- Fred Lewis was relieved that his fourth-inning adventure in left field did not lead to any unnecessary damage during the Blue Jays' 7-4 win over the White Sox on Friday night. The weather toyed with a fly ball off the bat of Andruw Jones and resulted in a double that Lewis would have easily caught under different circumstances.
"It was a combination of twilight and wind," Lewis said on Saturday. "I ran in and then it was just like, 'Oh, man.' I'm just glad it didn't cost us in the end."
Jones sent a pitch from Jays starter Shaun Marcum high above left field, where Lewis charged in -- only to have the baseball sail over his head. As Lewis quickly turned and sprinted back, the ball dropped to the grass for a two-base hit. At the time, it was the first hit allowed by Marcum.
Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who is on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, manned third base during an extended spring training game on Saturday. Encarnacion went 0-for-2, with one strikeout, at the plate. ... Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski pitched in an extended spring game, logging 4 2/3 innings with no hits allowed and four strikeouts in a 59-pitch effort. Rzepczynski is on the DL, recovering from a fractured middle finger on his pitching hand. ... Entering Saturday, the Blue Jays ranked last in the Majors with just two runners having advanced from first to third base on a single this season.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.