Whether it was the new way to position himself technically, the way he shifted himself defensively when the ball left the bat or the way he angled toward a high popup in foul territory, the environment he would call home in 2011 became a constant work in progress to the point Lind would spend extra hours taking ground balls after team workouts.
"In the outfield, you just stand and run," said Lind, who played 224 games in left field before making the shift to first in 2010. "There's no bad throws you have to deal with. You don't have to hold runners on when you bend over. And it's not just doing it one day. It's the course of two or three months. It's a grind."
Ultimately, the workload paid its toll on Lind. Lind tried to play in a game on May 7 last season despite "feeling some pretty bad pain" in his back.
"I told the trainers it was hurting and my wife told me not to play, but then I played and that was it," said Lind, who had been hitting .313 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs at the time of his injury. "I learned a pretty big lesson."
Lind said his entire back felt "like it was going to tear off" and his "belly button pretty much had shifted."
"It hurt to do anything -- sit, walk, sleep, just anything," said Lind, who spent most of May out with the injury before being re-activated on June 4. "I tried to sleep on my belly, my one leg was curled up, it was just really bad for about two weeks. Then I was able to start doing things, but I still couldn't run or bend over. Finally, after about a month, it felt right again and when it did, I quickly got back up to speed."
Lind worked with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Tolli in St. Petersburg, Fla., on a core strengthening regime that would allow him to gradually develop the strength and flexibility in his body.
"It was a matter of me keeping on a schedule every single day if I wanted to make sure this didn't happen again," Lind said. "It involves four different levels and once you reach the fourth level of exercises, you're pretty much good to go."
Lind said he does three sets of situps for a total of 180 situps almost every day and other core exercises on a daily basis, including back extensions, hip thrusts, wall squats, and planks.
He now feels in the right place physically and mentally to approach the season ready to play every day at first.
"If I'm healthy, I want to be on the field," said Lind, who made 16 starts as a designated hitter last season. "I'd rather be out at first base all the time. If I need any time off in the field, I'd rather not be the DH, because if I'm going to have a day off [in the field], I might as well just have a day off to rest completely. If I need one, I'll probably just want a day off. If I'm hurting, though, then I'll let them know. If I'm sore, I'll let them know. This thing [the back injury], just one day off isn't going to help."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell was adamant when asked if Lind is the team's everyday starting first baseman.
"As far as Spring Training goes, he is going to get the normal reps that he would be our everyday first baseman," Farrell said. "We're not looking at a platoon situation. He's our first baseman. When we get into the season and how we monitor his off-days, that's where [Edwin Encarnacion] will come into play."
The "blessing in disguise" for Farrell is that Lind has a better respect for pain.
"I'm going to tell them this time," Lind said. "I don't want to go through what I went through again. I learned a lot from it, what I need to do on a daily basis, how to stay strong and keep the endurance up throughout the season. It was a big learning lesson for me."
"We want every player to have the mindset and mentality that they're willing and ready to play every day," Farrell said. "There's going to be off-days that are required of everyone. The fact that he comes in with no hindrance of his low back that he experienced a year ago, I think he has a better understanding of the work needed as far as ground balls and not just overloading the volume like he did last spring. He has a better feel of what he has to do to play the position."
Lind has looked sharp throughout the spring and feels more confident heading into the start of games this weekend as opposed to last year.
"I learned a lot from it and what I need to do on a daily basis," Lind said. "I learned how to stay strong and keep the endurance up throughout the season. I just learned a lot from last season."
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less