Lawrie taking it slow after oblique strain
After having same injury last year, Blue Jays third baseman being cautious
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Part of Brett Lawrie's maturation at the big league level has been learning how to deal with injuries.
The Blue Jays' energetic third baseman sometimes appears ready to run through walls in order to make a big play. There are plenty of benefits with that style, but there are also some negatives.
Lawrie found that out the hard way when he tried to play through an oblique injury last season. A supposedly minor injury became more severe and ultimately cost him more than a month of the season.
The 23-year-old wasn't going to make that same mistake twice. When a similar injury surfaced while Lawrie was playing for Team Canada last week, he immediately shut things down to avoid any long-term setback.
"Last year, I figured this would go away itself and I would be able to play ... but that was totally not the case -- eventually to the point where I swung one time and it did not feel like it was supposed to," said Lawrie, who rejoined the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
"Allowing myself to do what I did and take myself out of the spot was big for me. ... If I couldn't do that healthy, it was time for me to take a step back and get ready for 162 games and get ready for my teammates, the Toronto Blue Jays."
Lawrie suffered the injury during a Team Canada exhibition game against the Reds. He attempted to make several diving grabs at third base during the first three innings and eventually felt a twinge in the left side of his body.
The native of Langley, British Columbia, was removed from the game at the end of the third to undergo further evaluations. An MRI didn't reveal any structural damage, but he does have a minor strain in his oblique area.
Lawrie will avoid baseball activities for the immediate future and there's no timeline for when a rehab program will be established. For now, it's just a matter of getting regular treatment from the medical staff and riding a stationary bike to stay in shape.
"We're glad to have him back," manager John Gibbons said. "They don't think it's anything serious. I mean, with that injury, it's always serious. If you don't get rid of it, it can really come back to haunt you. It can be a long-term thing.
"So we're going to be cautious with it, but they think it's on the lower end of the severity of it. So hopefully in a couple weeks he'll be at it, and he'll make Opening Day. If it lingers any, he might end up missing Opening Day."
The hope is that the worst-case scenario won't happen and that Lawrie will be ready to go, but in some ways, the damage has already been done. Lawrie was expected to become a key contributor for Team Canada, which had aspirations of reaching the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Lawrie's quest for that came to an end before the tournament even began. He could only watch from the dugout during Canada's three round-robin games against Italy, Mexico and the United States.
The fact that the country's fate was decided in a winner-take-all on Sunday versus Team USA made things even more difficult to handle.
"It was very disappointing, because that was an opportunity not often that comes around," said Lawrie, whose team lost 9-4. "I still got an opportunity to sit in the dugout and represent the boys and my country. A different feeling than definitely being out there and playing.
"I was happy just to be there and represent my team and be out there for the boys. That was important just to be a part of that, because that is just times you will never forget."
Lawrie also was asked about Jose Bautista's recent comments that essentially accused Team Canada of running up the score in its game against Mexico. Canadian catcher Chris Robinson led off the ninth inning of that game with a bunt single while his team was leading by six, which eventually sparked a benches-clearing fracas between the two sides.
Bautista said on Sunday that he felt an "unwritten rule" of the game had been broken by Canada. It was a feeling echoed by several players in the Blue Jays' clubhouse but runs contrary to the tournament rules, which states any tiebreaker in the standings will be determined by run differential.
Lawrie didn't respond directly to Bautista's comment, but he did defend the way Canada was being perceived by some. In his mind, Team Canada was playing by the rules, and anyone who doubts that doesn't quite grasp the international style of play.
"He got on and did his job, there's no problem with that," Lawrie said of Robinson. "In that situation, for Team Canada and what we needed, we needed baserunners and we needed more runs -- and that can eventually come down to it at the tournament when they stack up runs for and against.
"We did the right thing, playing international baseball, playing it like we're supposed to. We have to run up the score as much as you can, as you can see in that tournament. [Mexico] just didn't understand that, so what happened, happened."