TORONTO - Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are a big part of the future envisioned by new Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, and the Silver Slugger Awards they won Thursday underscore part of the reason why.
The honour, voted on by coaches and managers, is given the players selected as the best offensive players at each position in both the American and National Leagues. Hill (.286, 36 homers, 108 RBIs) and Lind (.305, 35, 114) become just the third Blue Jays duo to win the award in the same season, following in the footsteps of Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green in 1999, and Delgado and Vernon Wells in 2003.
They also matched Delgado and Green as the only Blue Jays teammates to record at least 35 home runs, 35 doubles and 100 RBIs in the same season.
"It's great for the Toronto Blue Jays," said Hill, who was the starting second baseman for the AL in the all-star game, and also won AL Comeback Player of the Year honours. "We've got guys who can do the job. It wasn't just Adam and I, there are a lot of guys who are capable of doing it on our team.
"We believe in what we have and each year you've just got to keep going and do the best with what you have."
Much has changed since a dismal 2009 season ended with the Blue Jays at 75-87 and clubhouse turmoil at manager Cito Gaston boiling over. Anthopoulos replaced the fired J.P. Ricciardi, Paul Beeston took over as president and CEO on a permanent basis, Gaston was retained for one final season, while a staff shuffle led to the departures of pitching coach Brad Arnsberg (Houston) and hitting coach Gene Tenace (retired).
More change is coming, too, as ace Roy Halladay's days with the team are numbered and Lyle Overbay is likely to de dealt, as well. Hill and Lind, however, aren't going anywhere.
Hill, 27, is signed through at least through the 2011 season with club options that could keep him in Toronto until 2014, while Lind, 26, is under team control through the '14 season. As Anthopoulos focuses on adding to the team's core, he's got two offensive cornerstones to build around.
"It's nice to have Alex say you're part of the core but our job is to go out and play," Hill said on a conference call. "I know maybe if I was a little older or what not, and a GM came and said you're going to rebuild you might have some comments about wanting to move on or whatever.
"I love, and I know Adam feels the same way, I love what we have and I love Toronto, I love the team and I'm excited about it. Whether it's next year or a couple of years down the road, hopefully I'll be here for a while and I would love to be on a team that brings it back to the playoffs and the World Series, because that's the ultimate goal."
Hill, one of a handful of players to confirm the clubhouse had issues that needed settling during the final weekend in Baltimore, offered his approval to the coaching staff changes by saying: "Great, whatever. It's out of our hands and we like all the guys that are there. Alex and I guess everybody else feels that this is the best way to go about it and we're behind them."
Lind says he wasn't focusing on the matter much. He was happy that Dwayne Murphy was promoted to replace Tenace, saying he and the team's former first base coach and minor-league roving hitting instructor had a strong relationship.
"A great thing about Murph is he lets you be who you are and he works with that," said Lind, who won the Silver Slugger at DH, but played some left field and could end up at first if Overbay is dealt. "He doesn't try to necessarily change who you are or what you do."
Otherwise Lind is trying to leave the messy end to the season in the past by "enjoying our life the way it is, with no stress and being able to do what we want."
"It was tough," he said of the final weekend. "A lot of people had their minds on different things with the off-season coming up and we were out of it. It was tough as a team to go through that, especially at the end of the season when it's supposed to be a happy time, everybody says their goodbyes and things, but it was a little tense. That's the way it goes."