Without Bautista, Blue Jays need to manufacture runs

Without Bautista, Blue Jays need to manufacture runs

Without Bautista, Blue Jays need to manufacture runs
NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays have managed to stay afloat in the playoff picture despite a wide range of injuries that have inflicted the team since June. However, the club now heads into what manager John Farrell considers a pivotal part of the season without its best player.

Toronto will be without Jose Bautista, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with left wrist inflammation, until at least Aug. 1. He will miss a series against the Red Sox, Athletics, Tigers and Mariners.

Farrell already implemented two different lineups for the final pair of games in the Bronx that Bautista missed, but no one can replace Bautista's team-leading 27 homers and 65 RBIs in the heart of the order.

But one player who can help alleviate the pain is the resurging Adam Lind, whose future in Toronto looked to be over only a little more than one month ago.

After getting optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas following a stretch of inadequate production, and then placed on outright waivers, Lind has rediscovered his old stroke.

While the sample is small, it is encouraging for a team that has constantly been riddled with bad news.

In 19 games (17 starts) since being recalled Lind is batting .323, with five homers, 15 RBIs, a .613 slugging percentage, and a .995 OPS. Those numbers are a stark contrast to the .186 average, three homers, 11 RBIs, .314 slugging and .586 OPS he posted in 34 games before packing for Vegas.

"I think we are all going to have to step up now that [Bautista's] out," Lind said. "I feel OK right now. You never want to get too high in this game, but I'm ready to try to help this team win.

"My rhythm and timing, which is what I worked on [in Vegas], is going well so far."

Farrell believes Lind's recent contributions are real and that it's the best he has seen the 29-year-old since the first half of 2011.

"Just hearing Adam talk in the dugout in-between at-bats, he's in a good place," Farrell said. "He feels good about himself. You can get a sense of players when they feel good, they're not afraid to talk [big], or they are just going with the flow of things, and he is in that place right now."

Expecting Lind to replace the production the Blue Jays would have otherwise got from Bautista -- the two-time defending home run king and three-time All-Star -- is unfair, if not unrealistic. But if Lind continues on his recent path his bat will play well in the five-hole behind slugger Edwin Encarnacion.

The exact order of the lineup before them is far from concrete, but Farrell has already showed a couple versions of what it might look like.

One has Rajai Davis, who has mainly hit in the lower portion of the lineup this year, leading off against left-handers, followed by Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. Lawrie, who appears to have dodged a major bullet after injuring his leg in Wednesday's finale, and Rasmus were the team's 1,2 hitters since the beginning of June.

Against righties it looks like recent rookie call-up Anthony Gose will leadoff, like he did Wednesday in his first Major League start, with Lawrie in the two-hole and Rasmus in the three-spot.

Gose brings the element of speed to the team. At the time of his promotion he was leading the Pacific Coast League with 29 stolen bases after swiping 70 at Double-A New Hampshire in 2011.

With Gose and Davis, who is second in the American League with 24 stolen bases, to go alongside Lawrie (12 swipes) the Blue Jays could start running more and try to manufacture some runs. Toronto, which has hit the second most home runs in the Majors, relies on its power, but with Bautista out of the mix, Farrell can turn to the running game more, providing his speedsters can get on base.

"We do have some guys that can really run that are well above average, not only in terms of speed, but have track records of being able to steal a base," Farrell said.

"Rajai obviously speaks for itself at the Major League level, Anthony's had a lot of success at the Minor League level. Depending on certain situations, we'll certainly turn him loose ... the speed definitely does give us another dimension."

Davis is optimistic about what him and Gose can do when they put some balls in play.

"The most important thing is making the defense work," Davis said. "We can put pressure on the defense which can cause errors. They could misplay balls because of the speed. We have to step up. It's going to take a team effort."

When Bautista struggled in April, the Blue Jays scored 4.6 runs per game, which increased as his production did to 5.1 in May and 5.3 in June. The Blue Jays have averaged 4 runs per game in July and whether they run more, continue to power through via the long ball or use a combination of things to stay in the hunt remains to be seen.

One thing is sure, no one in the Blue Jays' clubhouse is ready to throw in the towel just because Bautista joined a long list of others on the shelf.

As far fetched as it may have seemed in May, Lind has a prime opportunity to not only prove his worth, but play a major role in keeping the Blue Jays in the playoff race.

"We're ready to go. We have been close for years, and that extra playoff team really helps our chances of getting in," Lind said. "We have to keep grinding, and as Kelly [Johnson] said, we have to 'super-grind' now that [Bautista] is out."

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.