Great triumphs are often born from great expectations. Great expectations can also create great disappointments. Even though the ending of the 2013 season has yet to be written, the 2013 version of the Toronto Blue Jays would most likely tell you that this season has not exactly gone according to plan, however in the last month the team has shown glimpses of what made them an early World Series favorite.
"You need a little bit of time for a new group to gel", stated third baseman Brett Lawrie. "Half the team was new. We have all the new pitching and position players on top of a new coaching staff. It took a little bit of time for everyone to come together and get on the same page."
In some respects, the 2013 season has mimicked the 2012 season. Injuries have taken a toll as some key members of the lineup have spent time on the disabled list. Key members of the lineup such as Jose Reyes , and Melky Cabrera as well as Lawrie have spent time on the DL. Lawrie, who is currently rehabbing his left ankle in Low A Lansing, is scheduled to play a max of seven innings on Thursday 7/4 followed by a possible 9 inning stint on Friday, 7/5 depending on how he feels.
"My ankle feels pretty good, obviously it feels good enough to play", stated Lawrie. "It doesn’t feel fantastic like I wish it would but that takes a lot of time but for right now it feels good enough to play without bothering me, it’s just not as strong as the other one."
Lawrie, has actually had two stints on the disabled list this season and has been on three time in the last 12 months. Last year he lost extended time with a pulled oblique and earlier this year with a strained side.
"It’s frustrating", stated Lawrie "I remember back in the day when I was in the minor leagues I was able to wake up every day and was able to play 152 games out of 152 and never have any problems. Unfortunately I have run across a few things since I’ve gotten to the big leagues that have just stopped me."
Lawrie’s rehab in Lansing was a last minute decision made out of necessity to get him into games. After being assigned to Hi A Dunedin to rehab, weather in Florida has not cooperated and has made finding consistent work a challenge.
"Weather is a big reason why I’m here", stated Lawrie. "I was supposed to be with the Hi A team on Monday and that game got rained out, so I was going to go with the GCL team on Tuesday, which I did and went an hour and half to Lakeland and that ended up getting cancelled. You can’t just sit down there forever, not knowing what the weather is going to do and not getting any reps".
With the slow start the Blue Jays got off to in April, there is concern that the Blue Jays may have forced him back into action too quickly. With the offense struggling at the time, it was thought the Lawrie would be the spark plug to get the machine kick started. However starting the year on the DL did have some set him back and rushing him was most likely not the best move. At the time of his injury, Lawries slash line with the Blue Jays was .209/.268/.374 which is way below is .266/.324/.433 career line.
"I never really had a spring training", stated Lawrie. "I think I maybe only had 10 or 15 at bats before I went back to the show and once I got up there everyone was already game ready. My thing was I was trying to get some feel, see some pitches and get some at bats, but at the same time, it’s hard to do that in the big leagues because everyone is ready to rock".
With the offense seemingly picking up steam recently, the Blue Jays brass have decided that Lawrie will not return to the big league club until his bat is ready. Finding consistent work for Lawrie has been difficult and calling him up at this point would not benefit anyone. In the last forty days, Lawrie has only been able to play a total of ten innings. The delay in his return to the show until he shows he is ready is something that Lawrie is comfortable with.
"I agree", stated Lawrie. "Being in the big leagues and going through the motions really is not that much fun to be quite honest with you. I know for myself going up there and going through the motions and striking out and grounding out while you’re trying to help your team win and have all these people continually asking ‘what’s wrong with him?’ and pointing fingers while I have only had 10 AB’s and am trying to do my best is frustrating".
"I know during the season when I’m playing every single day and I miss two games I feel like I haven’t hit in a year", stated Lawrie. "I haven’t even really played in 40 days so you can imagine what I feel like right now. I’m just trying to find my swing, get my stroke back and get out of here".
Although some fans have been critical of the way Lawrie seemingly plays on the edge at all times and have wondered if he should back off, he makes one thing very clear. Changing his game is not something that he is interested in.
"I’m not worried about getting hurt", stated Lawrie. "The more you worry about that, it makes it hard to play the game because now you’re trying to step on eggshells everywhere. I go out there and play and unfortunately I’ve run into a little bit of trouble, but I’m on the mend and hopefully we can get better".
I originally published and posted this for okbluejays.com