Lind falls short in AL Final Vote race

Lind falls short in AL Final Vote race

ST. PETERSBURG -- Adam Lind truly felt he had a strong chance of heading to St. Louis for the All-Star Game. The Blue Jays outfielder has put up solid numbers, and his teammates spent much of the past week campaigning for him, hoping the American League's final roster spot would become his.

Lind -- one of five candidates for the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote in the AL -- ultimately came up short in balloting, with Brandon Inge of the Tigers earning the ticket to Busch Stadium for the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday. Lind stopped short of calling the end result a disappointment, but the young outfielder thought he had a realistic opportunity to be an All-Star for the first time in his career.

"I did," Lind said on Thursday. "I was hoping Canada would come out and vote strong. I figured if I played hockey, it would've been a landslide."

Beyond Inge, Lind was up against Ian Kinsler of the Rangers, Carlos Pena of the Rays and Chone Figgins of the Angels for this year's Final Vote. In the National League, Shane Victorino of the Phillies grabbed the 33rd roster spot by garnering more votes than Pablo Sandoval of the Giants, Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks, Cristian Guzman of the Nationals and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

Lind was not able to join second baseman Aaron Hill and ace Roy Halladay as Toronto's representatives at this year's All-Star Game, but the outfielder's early-season showing was definitely worthy of consideration, according to Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

"He's had an All-Star first half," Gaston said. "All of us were really pulling for him. He's a great kid. He's a great student. He listens, he learns and that's why he's improved himself so much. He's probably one of the better hitters in this league right now."

Through 83 games, the left-handed-hitting Lind was hitting .307 with a .379 on-base percentage and a.561 slugging percentage. Lind, 25, had launched 19 home runs, collected 26 doubles, scored 50 runs and collected 58 RBIs. Lind said his only statistical goals going into the season were to possibly hit .300 and manage 20 homers.

Needless to say, he's exceeded even his own expectations to this point.

"No question," Lind said. "I thought I'd probably start the season off hitting seventh, because that's kind of where I was in Spring Training, and then things just worked out."

Lind's production convinced Gaston to recently trust him with the third spot in the lineup.

"That meant a lot that he's putting me in there," Lind said. "That's kind of where I've always hit my whole life, but things are different when you get to the big leagues. It feels good."

For Lind, the most important aspect of his season has been that he's been able to stay consistent. Over the past two seasons, he went through extreme hot and cold spells, leading the Jays to send him up and down between the Minor Leagues and Toronto.

"My goal this year was just to stay in the big leagues for a whole season," said Lind, who is well on his way to meeting that hope. "I always say, 'Well, I've probably bought myself at least two more weeks.'"

At that, Lind chuckled, but it's obvious that he's not taking his strong season for granted.

Gaston took over for as the Jays' manager on June 20 of last season, and Lind was promptly promoted to the big league club. Down the stretch, Gaston took Lind under his wing and the outfielder began to make tremendous strides in the batter's box. That being the case, Gaston hasn't been surprised by Lind's performance this season.

"When I saw him last year," Gaston said, "I could see that this kid's got a chance to get better, especially when he just took to the things that we talked about, as far as having a plan when you walk up there and getting your pitch to hit and sticking with it. He probably does that more often than anyone on this club.

"You're starting to see the beginning of a great hitter."

This past week, Lind's teammates and member of the Blue Jays' staff donned black T-shirts with the slogan "Lind Your Vote," promoting the outfielder for the Final Vote. The players wore the shirts during batting practice, hoping to convince a few more fans in the stands to punch Lind's name on the ballot.

As far as making the All-Star team, Lind was already at a disadvantage when the season began. Entering the year, he was left off the All-Star ballot entirely due to the fact that he was projected to be Toronto's designated hitter. Since left fielder Travis Snider was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas in May, though, Lind has split time between left and the DH role.

The Blue Jays' players know this won't be Lind's last shot at being an All-Star, though.

"It's good that he's recognized -- that he's in there," Hill said. "This won't be his last chance. He's a great ballplayer and an unbelievable hitter, and he's going to continue to get better every year. It's not the last time he's going to have a chance to go to the All-Star Game."

The end result wasn't what Lind wanted, but he smiled when talking about the past five days.

"It's been an unbelievable feeling to have the support of my teammates," Lind said. "To have someone like Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells wear your shirt -- veterans of the game -- it makes you feel good. I would've liked to have gone, but it's still a fun week to experience."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.