That home run was the 25-year-old Lindor’s 30th of the year, making him just the second primary shortstop in Major League history with three or more seasons of 30-plus homers before the age of 26. Alex Rodriguez is the only other player to accomplish that feat.
“It’s a blessing, it’s an honor,” Lindor said. “I’m blessed to be healthy. I thank the Lord for being healthy on a daily basis, to be able to compete. I owe it to the group of guys that’s around me on a daily basis. They have helped me a lot to be a good hitter.”
Lindor learned earlier this season that health is by no means a guarantee when he landed on the injured list for the first time in his career to begin the regular season. In spite of that, Lindor is having one of his best campaigns yet. His .889 OPS entering play Wednesday would be a career high for him, and through 127 games, he’s hardly missed a beat when it comes to counting stats like hits (158), runs scored (89) and stolen bases (21).
Lindor chooses not to dwell on what else he could have done if not for the time lost. Rather, he tries to focus on making the most of any and all opportunities he does get.
“The motto that I’ve been trying to go by every day since I started playing was, ‘Don’t take anything for granted,’” Lindor said. “I’m going out there every day to not take anything for granted.”
An All-Star in each of his first four full Major League seasons, Lindor’s value to his team has been well established. As much as his power and his stellar defense, though, he makes an impact with his effort on every play. As an example, manager Terry Francona cited Lindor’s hustle on a third-inning grounder on Tuesday. Lindor was able to avoid getting doubled up, which ultimately set up a three-run rally.
“If he’s out by a half-step, nobody’s going to say anything,” Francona said. “But he got down the line, and that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about, like, ‘Don’t look in the rear-view mirror and wish you would’ve done something.’ That kept that inning going for us, and allowed some things to happen.”
To mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Indians and Angels joined the rest of the league on Wednesday in wearing caps with a ribbon patch bearing the date of the tragedy and the words, “We shall not forget.”
Francona certainly hasn’t forgotten where he was when he first heard the news. He was in between managing gigs, working for the Indians as a special advisor to the general manager. At the time of the attacks, Francona was in Pittsburgh on a scouting trip. Indians bench coach Brad Mills, also on the trip as an advance scout for the Cubs, was the one who called Francona up to tell him the first World Trade Center tower had been struck. About an hour and a half later, Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Penn., 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
“As it unfolded, we looked out the window, and people were running down the street in Pittsburgh, because there had been that one plane that had circled,” Francona said. “I rented a car later that afternoon -- I was living in Philly -- and Shanksville is an exit on the turnpike, and it was closed. You could see the smoke. That was really eerie.”
Francona paused, taking a moment to reflect on the powerful ripple effects the attacks had on the national and worldwide cultural landscapes.
“It just changed … it kind of took away our innocence, our country,” Francona said. “We were so fortunate. We have the freedoms and everything, and a lot of times, we take it for granted.”