Surely you’ve caught wind of this by now, but just for the sake of being complete– because there are certainly not minor moves of the sort I don’t mind letting slip away into the ether– Brett Lawrie and his Red Bull (and blinged-to-fuck watch) have rejoined the Jays, with the reciprocal move from the club being to put Sergio Santos on the DL with a triceps strain.
The triceps is what had sidelined Santos for a good chunk of the spring, and is perhaps the reason why, while he’s been effective, he hasn’t looked quite as sharp as we’d hoped to see him thus far.
“It hit a point where I felt I wouldn’t be doing the team any service or helping them out if I wasn’t coming in and pitching effectively,” said Santos, according to a piece from Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. “So I’d rather nip it in the bud now and that’s what I think their thinking is as well, get back and hopefully it’s only two or three weeks and then I can be back.”
With the bullpen going well, the loss of Santos for a couple weeks doesn’t seem to suggest some kind of forthcoming doom– though I grant that it’s entirely possible I’ll end up eating those words.
As for Lawrie, thanks in part to the recent flare up of Jose Bautista’s back, the plans seem to have him at third base for now. That’s the case despite his having played at second while on his rehab assignment in Dunedin, which led to speculation about the possibility of keeping Bautista at third, and– somewhat nuttily– promoting Anthony Gose and, in order to snuff out the majority of his value (and put him ahead of better bats, Rajai Davis and Emilio Bonifacio), playing him in right field.
That never really made a whole lot of sense, and fortunately it seems as though the Jays aren’t actually dumb enough to be contemplating it as seriously as the local media seemed to be. Keith Law hits the nail on the head in his latest at ESPN.com (Insider Only):
Trying Lawrie out at second while he’s on a rehab assignment makes sense, as it’s a rare opportunity to see if the defensive improvements he’s made at third transfer to his old position. This would give the team substantially greater flexibility down the road. The team could upgrade at second or third or in right field, with Lawrie at second or third and Jose Bautista at third or in right. You don’t want to try a player out at a new spot in the middle of a major league season when you’re trying to win, so giving Lawrie a few reps there this week to see how it looks is a smart move.
It looks especially smart, in fact, because John Lott of the National Post tells us that ”the club’s scouts were impressed” with the transition back to second, according to Alex Anthopoulos. “It was almost to the point [where] they didn’t know defensively, is he stronger at third or second? But that’s just a credit to how good an athlete he is,” the GM added.
The flexibility is key, too, because as Shi Davidi wrote on Monday, the Jays have so far found that finding “that middle infield help from outside the organization for now appears unlikely because ‘of what the asks have been on some of the players.’ ”
There is also, of course, the possibility that the Jays’ thin infield ranks could be made thinner through an injury to Munenori Kawasaki or Maicer Izturis, as well, so having Lawrie get some reps in at his one-time position in a game that doesn’t mean anything, and having enough confidence to try him out there for real, in case of emergency, is a genuine bonus. With Reyes gone from the top of the lineup, the club needs to keep finding ways to keep their best bats off the bench, and this can only help. For now, with Kawasaki running hot, the issue seems to be moot, but sadly, history shows that will likely only last for so long.
Lawrie, for his part, seems to be just a liiiiiiiiiitle bit dimed to finally be taking part in the 2013 season:
— Brett Lawrie (@blawrie13) April 16, 2013
There doesn’t seem to be any reason for him not to be in the lineup tonight, so I’m going to go ahead and expect that will be the case. Which is slightly fucking awesome. Finally.