Jays Notebook: Lind still hitting his stride

dam Lind, right, celebrates his three-run home run with Brett Lawrie. (AP/Jim Mone)

Adam Lind had three 20-home run seasons to his name entering the year, but reaching the milestone for the fourth time was a little different for the 30-year-old.

He says it’s especially rewarding to hit 20 homers just one season after being removed from the Toronto Blue Jays’ 40-man roster.

“That’s my goal every year is to hit 20 homers with 80 RBI,” he said. “That’s attainable.”

Lind reached the 20-home run plateau Friday, hitting a two-run home run off of Baltimore Orioles starter Jason Hammel to right-centre field.

Lind has now hit 20 home runs in four of the last five seasons. He has 57 RBI, which means he won’t drive in as many runs as he’d like, but he’s still enjoying his most productive offensive season since 2009.

“Overall I’d say probably the on-base percentage and batting average are probably the biggest differences from previous years,” Lind said.

Lind is hitting .279 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage in 130 games with the Blue Jays.

HOT CORNER GLOVEWORK: The Orioles-Blue Jays series features two of the league’s top defensive third basemen in Brett Lawrie and Manny Machado. Both managers agree that sound defensive teams will feature strong defenders at the hot corner.

“If you’re a stiff down there at third base, forget it,” Gibbons said. “There’s a lot of action down there.”

Machado made a number of athletic defensive plays Friday, a night he struck out three times.

“The most impressive thing is he was having a tough day offensively and didn’t carry it onto the field,” Showalter said.

The Orioles manager likes the way Machado’s arm plays on the artificial surface at Rogers Centre.

“If we played on turf every day, it would really show up,” Showalter said. “Because of the arm strength, the depth that you can play him at to cut off balls.”

Add Evan Longoria and Adrian Beltre to the mix, and there are some strong defensive third basemen in the American League.

“It’s tough to separate that group, since they’re all so good,” Gibbons said.

Lawrie will bat second Saturday for the first time this season, and has now hit in every spot in the lineup under Gibbons.

“He can almost fill in really anywhere,” Gibbons said. “I think he’s going to be a good hitter. I think he’s going to hit for average. I think he’s going to get his share of home runs and drive in runs, so you can really slot him anywhere.”

ROTATION UPDATE: Gibbons said R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and Todd Redmond are scheduled to face the New York Yankees in Toronto’s upcoming three-game series at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays are still not sure if Ricky Romero or Kyle Drabek will start before the season ends September 29. Gibbons would like to find more innings for Drabek, who has pitched just once this month after starting regularly in August.

“We want to get him in there,” Gibbons said. “There’s a lot of guys we want to get in there. You bring in so many guys, earlier in the year we could have used them all.

“But they all can’t pitch unless we go another 18 innings.”

While Dustin McGowan won’t start in 2013, he could return to the rotation next spring. Gibbons noted that the Blue Jays like what the right-hander has done in the bullpen.

“He’s got a chance to be one of the real good relievers,” Gibbons said, noting that many of McGowan’s injuries came when he started.

Gibbons says it has been a great year for the reliever despite his difficult outing Friday.

NOTES: Gibbons and Showalter both spoke highly of the throw Adam Jones made to retire Jose Reyes at third base Friday… .. Showalter said Rick Ankiel may have made the best throw he’s ever seen… Todd Redmond says he’s the same guy — and the same pitcher — he was in triple-A… Nate McLouth says the season is at once a grind and a blur. “It’s always amazing how fast it goes,” he said.

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