Adam Lind came out swinging this season with a go-ahead home run in his first plate appearance of 2017 back in April, and the veteran first baseman/left fielder has been putting up solid numbers ever since.
Through 67 games and 164 PAs, the 34-year-old bench bat and backup IF/OF has put up a .327/.378/.551 line with nine doubles and eight home runs.
With injuries to Jayson Werth, Chris Heisey, Ryan Raburn, and Michael A. Taylor, Lind has been pressed into duty in left field, where he’s started in each of the last three games.
Lind has been in the lineup in six of the Nationals’ last eight games, going 12 for 27 with two doubles and two home runs over that stretch.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked earlier this week about what he’s seen from Lind in left field, while acknowledging it’s not ideal to have him out there.
“He used to have some reps, but he hasn’t played there much in the last seven-eight years, you know what I mean, so he’s been working on it out there,” Baker explained.
“I mean, he’s really there out of necessity,” Baker continued. “Sometimes you do things out of necessity, and I have him covered late in the game with some defense and I have him down in the order because I don’t want to tear up my lineup late in the game, with him being in the middle and then I’ve got a kid, [Andrew] Stevenson or somebody batting in the heart of the lineup.”
Baker added that he would, of course, prefer to have Lind coming off the bench.
As a pinch hitter this season, Lind is 12 for 30 (.400/.455/.733) with a double and three home runs.
“Can’t have both,” Baker explained. “I’d rather have him the go-to pinch hitter and first base behind — and give [Ryan Zimmerman] a day off, but it’s like, what do I do without Heisey, without Werth, without Raburn, without Taylor?”
Defensively, Lind has been better than Baker expected in left field.
“Yeah, just sometimes you wish he’d get there a little sooner,” Baker joked following the finale with the Milwaukee Brewers this week, “but the fact [is] that when he gets there he puts his hand on it, it’s caught.
“We just have to pay attention to leg soreness and stuff when you’re not used to playing out there every day and you’re not used to running from the dugout cause people don’t know that takes its toll on you too, cause it’s closer when you just trot to first than when you got to left field, so I was contemplating not playing him today because I knew he was going to be a little sore after the eighteen innings he had played the last couple days so I’m just -- everybody is contributing, everybody is chipping in especially with all the guys we’ve got hurt and it’s mandatory that the extra guys continue to play the way they’re playing.”
With the acquisition of Howie Kendrick, Baker has another option in left, and when the Nationals get some of their rehabbing outfielders back, they could have a bench with options including Lind, Kendrick, Stephen Drew, Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin, and Jose Lobaton, and the added benefit, as the Nationals’ skipper noted recently, of having his bench options sharp since they’ve been getting regular at bats in the last few weeks.