After a rain-shortened rehab assignment with Advanced-A Dunedin, the Lansing Lugnuts were excited to welcome Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie for a brief two-game stint earlier this month before making the trip to Double-A New Hampshire on July 6.
“The rehab stint in Dunedin was frustrating because I wanted to get into games and the weather wasn’t cooperating,” Lawrie said. “I was supposed to play on Monday with the high-A team and that game got cancelled. They had an off day the next day, so I went with the [Gulf Coast League] team on Tuesday to play a game in Lakeland and that game got cancelled. “
“[The Blue Jays] brought me to Lansing to get me in games and get some at-bats — it’s important.”
Rehabbing an injury to his left ankle from a slide into second base against the Atlanta Braves on May 27, the 23-year-old seemed to be doing just fine when he was with the Lugnuts.
“My left ankle feels pretty good,” he said. “It obviously doesn’t feel as good as my right one does, but it’s not going to for some time so I’ve got to suck it up and deal with what I’ve got.”
It was Lawrie’s first trip back to Lansing in almost a year, as he appeared in one game for the Lugnuts last September. No stranger to the Midwest League, Lawrie took the time to discuss what he saw from his teammates this time around.
“I have only been in Lansing a short time, but these guys play hard every night,” he said at the time. “These players know what it takes to get to the next level and they go hard every night. I have been here; I played in the Midwest League for my first-ever taste of professional baseball. I know what [these guys] are going through. It’s a grind.”
Having now completed his rehab assignment and back with the Blue Jays, Lawrie is hoping to get into mid-season form, because he missed spring training entirely and suffered an oblique injury playing for his country in the World Baseball Classic prior to the regular season.
“I didn’t have a spring training this year and then I went to Team Canada and injured my oblique. It’s hard to be ready without at-bats,” the Langley, British Columbia native said. “I only had 10 to 15 AB’s before going back up to the top and the other guys are in mid-season form after spring training. I was there trying to find rhythm, but it’s tough without a spring training and not many AB’s.
“The other guys were ready to rock and my first month was basically my spring training. That stuff is tough, but I’m not a big excuse guy. In the first half I was grinding and trying to help my teammates out the best I can so I feel it’s important for me to get in games get at-bats.”
Commenting on the offseason transactions that the Blue Jays made and how the new players are gelling with the rest of the team, Lawrie added that chemistry among teammates is easier said than done.
“It took a little bit of time. We didn’t get off to the start everybody expected we would,” he said. “We lost Jose Reyes early and then I got injured. It’s tough, and to build chemistry as a team takes time. It’s not like you go to spring training and come out all on the same page. I think people saw that, but we’re getting better especially with a new coaching staff.
“We’re all getting to know each other. It took a little bit of time, but I think we’re definitely on an upswing.”
Lawrie was definitely looking forward to rejoining the Blue Jays, but was okay with the process in place before he returned to the team. He was well aware of his need to keep getting at-bats and continue working on his timing at the plate.
“I’m not sure when I’ll be going back to Toronto,” Lawrie said at the time. “I need to progress my way up; I need at-bats and to get into games. You don’t want to go to the big leagues under-prepared.
“You want to go there ready to rock, and I think it’s best to take my time and get some at-bats so when I go back to Toronto, I’m ready.”