Brett Lawrie's season a mixed bag | Baseball | CBC Sports

MLBBrett Lawrie's season a mixed bag

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2013 | 01:29 PM

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Brett Lawrie scores points for his hustle and intensity, but the Jays third baseman's high-strung playing style has also landed him in hot water. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Brett Lawrie scores points for his hustle and intensity, but the Jays third baseman's high-strung playing style has also landed him in hot water. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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He has pretty much filled in every spot on the Brett Lawrie Bingo card, and it's only May. He's been on the DL (twice), been ejected, yelled at his teammates, played amazing defence and been obnoxious on Twitter. About the only thing Brett Lawrie hasn't done is hit.
There's never a dull moment with Brett Lawrie around.

He has pretty much filled in every spot on the Brett Lawrie Bingo card, and it's only May.  He's been on the DL (twice), been ejected, yelled at his teammates, played amazing defence and been obnoxious on Twitter.

About the only thing he hasn't done is hit.

Lawrie is a bundle of energy that might fire off in any direction at any time. If you could figure out how to harness it properly, it could power the city of Toronto. He vibrates. He's just 23 and I'd like to think that, as he gets a bit older, he'll be able to direct that energy a little bit better. He needs maturing (didn't we all at 23?), and maturing is hard to do in front of a country's worth of baseball fans.

The ejection from last Friday's game was totally unfair. Lawrie wasn't happy to be called out on strikes, but he didn't get into the umpire's face. He took his batting helmet off, put it down and walked towards his position. As he walked, he took his batting gloves off and tossed them toward his helmet, actually being a good guy, keeping his equipment together for the bat boy to pick up.

Even if Lawrie was venting, since he wasn't showing up the umpire, he should be allowed that. Players are allowed emotions, the game should be important to them. Umpires shouldn't be allowed emotions or to have a grudge, even if the player is a little immature.

On the other hand, Lawrie's actions near the end of Sunday's game were much less forgivable.

If you missed it, he came to bat with the Jays down by two in the ninth, Adam Lind on third, J.P. Arencibia on first, none out. Lawrie hit a fly ball to medium right-field. If Lind had represented the tying or go-ahead run, it might have been worth sending him home, but since he wasn't, there was nothing to gain by sending him. Lawrie had a different opinion, and decided to let Lind and third base coach Luis Rivera hear about it. Loudly.

I'm not sure if Lawrie didn't understand the game situation, or if he was being selfish, knowing that if Lind scored he would get an RBI. Either way he was wrong. And it isn't his place to tell the coaches how to do their jobs.

I'm glad that manager John Gibbons immediately let him know he was out of line and that Jose Bautista wore his team captain hat, putting himself between Lawrie and Gibbons. Bautista told Lawrie to sit down and shut up. Last year with the Jays, far too often, on-field incidents weren't addressed.

Lawrie was lucky that Munenori Kawasaki played the hero, hitting a walk-off double to win the game, and then was incredibly charismatic in post-game interviews. Without that, Lawrie's outburst would have been a much bigger story. Wins make everything better and he did apologize to his teammates, so all was forgiven.

Good field, no hit

Then the next day, he sprained his ankle. With the Jays up by five, Lawrie stole second base and slid very awkwardly into the base. The "unwritten rules" of baseball say you don't steal when your team is up by five runs. Why? Because the stolen base is a one-run strategy and, up by five, one run isn't that important. The other reason is that you are taking the chance of being injured at a time when there is little to be gained.

A baseball season is long, and there are plenty of moments when a team can use a stolen base. When your team is up by five, that's not one of those moments. Again, Lawrie should have been paying attention to the game situation.

Lawrie, I'm sure, is frustrated. He has much to be frustrated about. He started the season on the DL, the team hasn't been winning and he hasn't been hitting. He does need to learn to deal with frustration better, but then many of us could use help in dealing with frustration. When he messes up, he does it in front of thousands of people. Most of us do our messing up in much more private settings.

Lawrie will get there. His teammates seem to like him. It's good for a team to have a player with so much energy, so much emotion. It's a long season, players get tired, and they can draw off his energy.

The Brett Lawrie we are seeing is much the opposite of the Brett Lawrie we were promised when he was  a prospect.  We were told of his great bat in the minors, but scouts were worried about his glove. But he gets to the majors and his glove has been amazing. I love watching him play third base -- his seems to make a highlight-reel play every game.

His bat hasn't been great. He has a lot of moving parts to his swing, which may have something to do with all that energy in him. When his timing is off, it takes a long time to find it again.

He finally seemed to have figured it out just before he injured himself, with seven hits over 17 at bats in the five games leading up to the ankle sprain, including a home run. It's a small sample size, but that run finally got his batting average over .200.

I hope the time off doesn't have him starting at square one again when he comes back.

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