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Adam Lind finally fills Brewers’ hole at 1B

April 9, 2015

It’s been 3½ years since Prince Fielder last put on a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. After a search that took nearly as long, they look to finally have found a suitable replacement.

Adam Lind, the 17th player to start at first base since Fielder’s departure following the 2011 season, is that replacement. Through three games, he’s batting .667 (6-for-9) with a pair of doubles and a two-run home run, the Brewers’ first of the season.

“It’s been nice to see him swinging the bat,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said during Wednesday night’s broadcast. “He looks like a very professional hitter and is going to really help this ballclub in the middle of that order.”

The 16 starting first basemen between Lind and Fielder? Only a handful are household names.

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Mat Gamel, Travis Ishikawa, Taylor Green, Brooks Conrad and Corey Hart split time there in 2012. Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, Sean Halton, Alex Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado and Blake Lalli were over there in 2013. Last season, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, Matt Clark and Jason Rogers joined the mix.

That first group put together a slash line of .258/.322/.452 with 25 home runs, 88 RBIs and 150 strikeouts against 49 walks. The 2013 crew, they were historically bad at .206/.259/.370 with 21 home runs, 86 RBIs, 171 strikeouts and just 38 walks. Finally, in 2014, they slashed .207/.287/.356 with 19 homers, 61 RBIs, 149 strikeouts and 63 walks.

By comparison, Lind batted .287/.351/.467 with 40 home runs, 152 RBIs, 212 strikeouts and 108 walks over 332 games the last three seasons.

“I think he’s going to be a really big addition,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “(He’s) a really true major league hitter that can hit third, fourth, fifth in your lineup.”

With right fielder Ryan Braun out of the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday and Wednesday night, Lind batted third between catcher Jonathan Lucroy and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He batted fifth on opening day, behind Ramirez.

Lind’s career numbers — .212/.257/.331 vs. lefties and .293/.349/.510 against right-handers — suggest he could be a good fit for a platoon, but Roenicke does plan to give him a chance to face left-handed pitching.

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Even with those splits, Lind looks like a significant offensive upgrade a crucial offensive position.

Lind even has flashed some defensive potential at first base, making a diving stop to start a double play on opening day.

The only real question with Lind is one of health.

While he played 143 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013, Lind managed just 189 games combined in 2012 and 2014 due mostly to back issues that date to 2011. Lind also played through a broken foot last year, which in turn caused his back problems to flare up.

He also opened spring training with lower back stiffness this season. Still, the Brewers remain optimistic that Lind’s back is manageable and will not cause them too much trouble.

“It’s not necessarily an issue if he’s playing too much,” Roenicke said. “It’s one play that he’ll be in an odd, awkward position trying to field a ball or catch a throw from the infielders and then something will tweak the back.”

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