This morning the Blue Jays confirmed the speculations that Brett Lawrie will be starting this season on the 15-day disabled list, and the club will carry eight pitchers in the bullpen in order to delay the decision-making process over out-of-option relievers for several days at least.
Brett Lawrie to open season on DL. #Bluejays likely to go with 8-man pen out of gate— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) March 25, 2013
Lawrie hasn't played a major league spring training game since he was injured during a World Baseball Classic exhibition game, so his DL timeline can be backdated as far as March 22. A little bit of counting shows us that the earliest Lawrie can be activated is Saturday, April 6. According to Alex Anthopoulos, who appeared on the radio with Mike Wilner on Sunday, Lawrie does not feel any pain, but he would like his young third baseman to take the time he needs to get his timing down at the plate before forcing him into games. Let's hope that the general manager is telling us the whole truth.
John Gibbons told reporters that he will decide whether to start Mark DeRosa, Maicer Izturis, or Emilio Bonifacio at third "depending on what bat [he wants]" in the lineup. If both Izturis and Bonifacio are playing, I would like to much like to see Izturis patrolling the hot corner and leaving Bonifacio on the right side of the infield where he is more comfortable. We all remember how he struggled with throwing when he was a shortstop earlier in spring training.
Edwin Encarnacion is still not playing, but the Blue Jays are "hopeful" that he will be back in the next couple of days, according to Mike Wilner.
The eight-man bullpen is not ideal to start the season, but it means that the Blue Jays can have another week to evaluate which of their out-of-option relievers (Brett Cecil, Jeremy Jeffress, Esmil Rogers) to try to sneak through outright waivers into the minors. Anthopoulos did claim on Wilner's show that one of the potential advantages of that plan is the fact that other teams would generally have a fixed roster after the season starts, and waiver claims are less likely to happen. I still think that some teams would still try to make roster moves to acquire one of those three relievers for free.
In other news, a bunch of expected roster cuts happened: Dave Bush, Anthony Gose, Brad Lincoln, and Josh Thole were all optioned to AAA Buffalo. Mike Nickeas has been informed that he will not make the 25-man roster, but would be staying with the team for the rest of spring training as a third catcher.
Talking about catchers, Gibbons also mentioned that he was impressed with the way J.P. Arencibia handled R.A. Dickey's knuckleball, and he will not announce a personal catcher for Dickey. Arencibia will fulfill his own premonitions during the Winter Meetings, and will indeed be the starting catcher on Opening Night. Through the season, Arencibia will be sharing catching duties with Henry Blanco.