Lawrie prepping for shift over to second base
Blue Jays infielder getting acclimated for change in rehab assignment
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays appear to have reversed course and are now seriously considering transitioning Brett Lawrie to second base on a full-time basis.
Lawrie has been playing at second during his current rehab assignment in Triple-A Buffalo and when he's ready to return to the Major Leagues it likely will be at his new position.
A move from third base to second had been ruled out by the organization earlier in the year, but the Blue Jays' line of thinking has changed and it appears the major shakeup is imminent.
"We're looking future wise," manager John Gibbons said. "He's an above average third baseman, but kind of the way we're looking, if you look at his physical abilities, he has a chance to be a great second baseman. You look at the range factor and things like that, it might be a nice combo with him and Jose [Reyes] up the middle for a few years."
Lawrie has spent his entire Major League career at third, but he was drafted by Milwaukee as a catcher and came up through the Brewers' Minor League system as a second baseman. He transitioned to third following an offseason deal at the 2010 Winter Meetings and has since become one of the better defenders in the Majors at his position.
The move won't necessarily have much of an impact on the Blue Jays' current 25-man roster. The club has struggled to get consistent production this season from second base, but that issue will now simply move across the diamond to third where Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa are expected to share time.
Edwin Encarnacion also could receive an occasional start at third, but Gibbons completely ruled out having Bautista play there and it's something the veteran slugger has expressed disapproval about in the past.
What the move would do, though, is increase general manager Alex Anthopoulos' options prior to the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline and during the offseason. It's generally easier to find a third baseman with above average offensive abilities than it is at second.
But the one thing Gibbons wants to avoid is moving Lawrie back and forth between second and third. When a final decision gets made it's something Gibbons wants to stick to so that Lawrie can settle into and find a permanent home.
"I don't want to get into where you bounce him back and forth," Gibbons said. "I think, at this stage, he has too much upside for that. He's a really good third baseman, he could add a ton of range up there at second base. Combine him with Reyes up the middle."
Lawrie, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left ankle, appeared in his second rehab game for Buffalo on Wednesday night. He is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.