Lawrie receives long-awaited call from Jays
3rd-base prospect expected to make major league debut at Baltimore
It's déjà-vu all over again for Brett Lawrie.
In early June, with the Toronto Blue Jays preparing to open a three-game series at Baltimore, word got around that the team was about to summon the third-base prospect from AAA Las Vegas for his major league debut.
However, Lawrie's arrival was derailed after he was hit by a pitch in a AAA game on May 31 and suffered a non-displaced fracture to a bone in the back of his left hand.
Eight weeks later, Lawrie has received the call he, the team and millions of Blue Jays fans have been waiting for this season as Toronto gears up for a weekend series against the hometown Baltimore Orioles following a three-game series loss in Tampa Bay.
Besides the Brett Lawrie recall, the Blue Jays also brought back left-hander Luis Perez from AAA Las Vegas and sent outfielder Travis Snider back down to the 51s after Thursday's loss.
Snider and Perez have split this season between Toronto and Las Vegas. Snider has a .225 average in the majors with three homers and 30 runs batted in.
Perez is 1-2 on the season with a 3.57 earned-run average.
The 21-year-old Langley, B.C., native will meet the Blue Jays at Camden Yards and could be in Friday's starting lineup against Orioles newcomer Tommy Hunter.
"We wanted to find out about Brett Lawrie sooner rather than later," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on a conference call. "We wanted to get him some August at-bats to get a little bit more of a read on him so he deserved to be up here."
Lawrie's arrival will push Jose Bautista back to right field, where he is best suited for the Blue Jays.
Third base had been a black hole for Toronto offensively from the start of the season through late June, with Edwin Encarnacion, Jayson Nix, Mike McCoy and John McDonald combining for a .176 average, five homers and 26 runs batted in.
Lawrie leaves Las Vegas with a .353 batting average in 69 games with the 51s. He also led the team with 18 home runs and added 61 RBIs and a .415 on-base percentage. Lawrie also played four games for Class-A Dunedin during his recovery.
"We try to put these players in the best position to have success when they come up here," said Anthopoulos. "You know you're not going to be 100 per cent sure. Like I always say, the likelihood with all young players is that they're probably going to have to go back down, but at least you want to do the best you can developmentally to prepare them for being up here.
"Hopefully now with Brett he can be up here to stay for the entire year."
The six-foot, 215-pounder was acquired from Milwaukee at baseball's winter meetings last December for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum.
Lawrie raised eyebrows after the deal was completed by declaring — just two years into his professional career and coming off a solid season with AA Huntsville — he was intent on winning a job with the Blue Jays in 2011, and saw no need for a stint at AAA Las Vegas.
The 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft — the highest a Canadian position player has ever been selected — Lawrie was chosen as a catcher but installed at second base by the Brewers once he turned pro. He also has experience in the outfield.
Scouts have long admired Lawrie's tenacity and fearlessness, two traits that helped him get named to Canada's Olympic team in 2008 and World Baseball Classic squad in '09 despite his age.
With files from The Canadian Press