Breaking: Brett Lawrie?
In his return to the lineup, something has happened to Brett Lawrie’s back — Gregor Chisholm was the first to tweet that it was “lower back tightness,” officially — and he did not come out to field in the top of the fourth inning. Danny Valencia took his place at third base.
Hey, but you know what’s more important than getting real grass for the Jays to play on? Being super nice to the Argos!
Doubly so after Danny Valencia butchered a high chopper from Delmon Young from an easy, and much needed, out into a run-scoring single.
Anywho, in his first and only at-bat of the night, Lawrie hit what might have been a double down the first base line, but he missed first base and had to quickly put on the brakes and go back — though, in all honesty, that may have had more to do with the arm of Nick Markakis. Before we knew the official explanation, Buck and Tabby thought the issue may have occurred then. I wondered for a time if maybe something happened with his still-sore finger when he slid back into first base. John Gibbons even suggested in a mid-telecast interview that something may have happened with him sitting on the flight from Florida.
Whatever the case, stop me if you’ve heard this before: Brett Lawrie is hurt. We’ll update as more becomes known, unless it’s just “day-to-day,” which it almost certainly is going to be. So… this is probably all you’ll get.
Update: Well, Lawrie is day-to-day, but here’s a little more context for you: Megan Robinson tweets that John Gibbons says Lawrie felt his back tighten up in batting practice, while Barry Davis adds that Lawrie himself says it was “grabbing at” him in BP, and that this is the first time he’s experienced a lower back problem, which… that can’t be right, can it? He’ll have an MRI tomorrow just to be safe, Davis tweets, but the hope is that he’ll only be out a day or two. Fun stuff, ain’t it? One more tweet from Barry tells us that Lawrie had treatment during the game and his back loosened up, but that he’s still going to to be cautious and get the MRI.
Welcome Back Kottaras
The Jays divested themselves of some of their catching depth when they moved Erik Kratz as part of the deal for Danny Valencia last week, and as much as the Valencia is a nice little fit for them, it left the rather thin in the catching department. A.J. Jimenez is the only non-MLB catcher on the roster, with Mike Nickeas the only one with big league experience at either Buffalo or New Hampshire.
In other words, they wouldn’t be in a great spot if Navarro or Thole were injured. Not that any team wouldn’t have a rough go if it lost both of its big league catchers, but Kratz was a nice little insurance policy — a good-receiving backup with a little bit of pop, and thank to his time in the big leagues, with some familiarity with the club’s pitchers, too.
I wasn’t terribly worried about the Jays being able to come up with a guy to take his place, if they ended up needing one in a pinch, and it turns out we didn’t — or at least may not — have to wait until then. To wit:
He’s certainly got the passport that will get people around here to take notice, but he’s actually a nifty little pickup, too.
Ewan Ross made the case for the Jays to pick up Kottaras back in November at Blue Jays Plus, citing his elite walk rate, his good ISO, that he’s a left-handed hitter (A.J. Jimenez hits right, FYI), and the fact that he’s caught a knuckleball before (he was Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher in 2009) as reasons. He hasn’t played much this season, or all that well — at least not in the overall, though he was hot in a very small big league sample of 33 plate appearances split between Cleveland and St. Louis — but the track record is actually pretty decent. He’s been worth over three wins per FanGraphs in less than a couple season’s worth of plate appearances (853 PA), partly based on defence, but partly also because he’s been a league average hitter by wRC+, thanks largely to the great walk rate, which has seen him post a career OBP of .327 — which is only, like, 50 points higher than Kratz’s, with a better SLG and ISO to boot.
That’ll play. Um… in Buffalo, ideally.