The Albuquerque Isotopes will wrap up the home portion of their 2011 schedule Sunday night at 6:05 p.m. against Round Rock.
It will be the last time for Albuquerque fans to see their team until next April, when the Isotopes will likely be populated with a slew of new faces and maybe a few familiar ones.
One player who has become a face of the team the last two seasons has been first baseman John Lindsey. He was a monster in 2010, leading all of Minor League Baseball with a .353 batting average while pacing the Isotopes with 25 home runs and 97 RBI.
Father Time, though, shows no mercy to athletes, catching up to all of them eventually. At 34, Lindsey is one of the oldest Albuquerque players and this season he has been hampered by a recurring right calf injury ever since spring training.
“It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this year, it’s just one extreme to the next,” Lindsey said. “But I’ve done well the times I’ve been able to get out on the field and play. It’s just one of those years where my body hasn’t been right. I’m focusing on trying to finish up strong.”
Lindsey has hit .303 (63-for-208) with 10 home runs and 45 RBI in the 67 games he has been able to play this year. He was on the disabled list due to the calf injury from April 15 to May 2 and again from June 19 to June 30. Just when the calf seemed to be doing better, Lindsey hurt himself in another way.
“It’s just been crazy,” he said. “I hurt my (left) hamstring trying to protect the calf. With a lot of rest I’ll get time to heal. Everything else feels great. My hands, my arm, my swing, it’s just that calf. It’s hard to go out and play when that part of your body is hurt.”
The hamstring injury forced Lindsey to the DL from July 9 to Aug. 3. With every missed game, Lindsey loses more time in which to show the Dodgers, as well as the other 29 organizations, that he still has a future beyond this season.
“It’s been tough on him,” manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “Big John’s at that stage of his career now where every year is important to him. You look back over our season overall as a team, when he’s been in the lineup we’ve been pretty good. His presence carries a lot of weight in this lineup.”
Lindsey has been limited to serving as a designated hitter, moving slowly and carefully out of the batting box any time he does connect with the baseball. Sometimes fans who are clearly unaware of his physical condition have given him an earful from the stands.
“It’s funny, I hear it but I don’t,” Lindsey said. “My teammates come in and tell me, ‘Hey, have they been to a game this year? Don’t they know you’re hanging on there by a thread?’ (But) it doesn’t affect me.”
Lindsey said he will return to his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., to rest and rehab his leg with the hope of being healthy enough to play in a winter league in Latin America later in the offseason.
“I’m just trying to stay positive, going into this offseason, working with the trainer and hoping I can erase father time a little bit,” Lindsey said. “It’s kind of strange how this hit me all of a sudden this year. But I feel if I can get myself in good shape, go to winter ball and show teams that I can play, then hopefully next season I can get another job and do what I can do.”
As a Hattiesburg native, Lindsey was asked how his current situation compares to that of the city’s most prominent professional athlete, a certain quarterback by the name of Brett Favre.
“My cousin played college football with him and he talks about him but I don’t know him,” Lindsey said. “This game, I feel his pain, this game is something special and when it’s all you know it’s hard to walk away from it.
“I’m not going to give any retirement speeches. I’m going to play until they tell me they don’t want me anymore.”