TORONTO -- It's been a long, trying season for Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind.
The 28-year-old has been forced to deal with a back injury for most of the season while also battling a sore wrist in recent weeks, which has impacted his performance at the plate.
The injury woes, combined with being asked to make the transition from designated hitter to full-time infielder this year have, at times, taken their toll mentally just as much as they have physically.
"I don't think I'm the only guy who's in that situation, but my body is kind of where I thought it would be at the beginning of the year at this point," Lind said. "It's just my mind, that's been the hardest thing about playing every day this year.
"Just the concentration level you have to have for nine innings every day. When you DH, there's definitely some down time, you can relax, but when you play at a position every day, you've got to be locked in every pitch."
Lind entered play on Saturday hitting just .200 (42-for-210) with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 51 games since the All-Star break. He has been making harder contact in recent games and on Friday, he broke out of his slump by going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.
The production against New York becomes even more impressive considering most of it came against tough left-handed starter CC Sabathia. It's something Lind can use to build on in the final two weeks of the year and heading into the offseason.
"If you can get a hit off CC, who's probably one of the best pitchers in the game, it's gratifying," Lind said. "But it wasn't just me, everyone I think had good at-bats against him, we hung in there, and we've been that kind of team all year."
Lind is hitting .255 with 24 home runs and 83 RBIs in 118 games this season.
Alvarez making progress with slider
TORONTO -- Toronto right-hander Henderson Alvarez continues to make progress with a slider that he has been throwing for less than a year.
Alvarez possesses a mid-to-upper 90s fastball with an effective changeup, but is still working on that third pitch. He initially experimented with a curveball, but abandoned that during the early stages of the season in favor of the slider.
"It's not a finished product, but it's improving," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I think the one thing he's realizing is maintaining a consistent arm slot with his fastball and changeup when he's throwing his slider.
"There have been times when he's tried to get real high up on top thinking he has to get over the front of the baseball and he subconsciously changed that arm slot."
Alvarez has experienced a lot of success during his rookie campaign even without being able to use the slider often. But the club feels that if he is able to perfect the pitch, it will provide another weapon to keep hitters off balance when facing them multiple times in one game.
"He is showing that he can get through a lineup two or three times with predominantly a fastball and changeup, but we're not going to just settle on that," Farrell said. "If we can add a quality third pitch, it's just going to make his ability to attack a lineup a third time with that much more consistency."
Alvarez entered Saturday's start against the Yankees with a 1-2 record and a 3.09 ERA in seven games.
Club's top Minor Leaguers receive awards
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays handed out hardware to their top Minor League players before Saturday afternoon's game against the Yankees.
Toronto named its seven recipients of the R. Howard Webster Awards, which honor the most valuable player at each of the club's Minor League affiliates.
First baseman David Cooper (Triple-A), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (Double-A), catcher A.J. Jimenez (Class A), outfielder Jake Marisnick (Low A), left-hander Justin Nicolino (Short A), outfielder Chris Hawkins (Rookie Advanced), shortstop Jorge Vega-Rosado (rookie) and left-hander Jairo Labourt (Dominican Summer League) all won the award.
Cooper led the Pacific Coast League in average (.364), doubles (51) and on-base percentage (.439). He also finished tied for 10th in RBIs with 96 en route to a PCL All-Star Game selection.
For his efforts this season, d'Arnaud earned the most valuable player award in the Eastern League. He led the league in slugging (.542), second in OPS (.914), fourth in home runs (21) and fifth in average (.311). He was unable to attend the ceremony because his club is competing in the league championship.
Jimenez was named the top defensive catcher in the Florida State League by a Baseball America Coaches poll. The ninth-round pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft led Dunedin with a .303 average and threw out 44% of base stealers.
Marisnick became the 24th player in franchise history to win two or more Webster Awards. He picked up the award last season with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays and earned similar honors this year with Class A Lansing. Marisnick hit .320 with 14 homers, 77 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. He also was unable to attend the ceremony because of Lansing's playoff run.
Double-A New Hampshire outfielder Anthony Gose was named this year's winner of the Community Service Award. Gose spent time visiting sick children and their families and also took part in all four sessions of the Fisher Cats baseball camp in Double-A.
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar missed his fifth consecutive game on Saturday afternoon because of a sore left elbow. He is listed as day to day.
Right-hander Casey Janssen entered play Saturday having allowed just one run in his previous 22 1/3 innings. He is 5-0 on the season after picking up the win on Friday night and has held opponents to a .219 average.