CLEARWATER, Fla. — There’s no denying that Brett Lawrie has been the surprise of the camp, the player that has opened the most eyes.
The native of Langley, B.C., who is being groomed as a third baseman, has clearly won the heart of manager John Farrell and although he hasn’t come out and said so, he’s leaving little doubt through his daily praise that he would like to see Lawrie open the season with the Blue Jays.
Farrell isn’t the only individual that believes that the Jays would be better served by having Lawrie at third and Jose Bautista in right over Bautista at third and Juan Rivera in right.
It will likely come down to a tug-of-war between Farrell and general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who probably would prefer that Lawrie receive some seasoning at triple-A, especially since he’s learning a new position.
“I sent a text to Alex yesterday saying I can’t wait for the day that Lawrie and (Anthony) Gose might be fully ready to go as major league players,” Farrell said Thursday. “They’re exciting young players and they can impact the game in a number of different ways. That’s not to say we’ve made a final roster decision when it comes to Lawrie but both of those guys are extremely talented and are going to have an impact the day they arrive in the majors.”
Gose, a centre fielder, has tremendous speed while Lawrie is hitting at a .345 clip at his first major-league spring training.
Farrell was asked if he and Anthopoulos were asked for a list of the 25 players that will make up the club, would there be any differences?
“That’s a great question and I think right now there might be a couple of differences,” Farrell replied. “But that’s what makes the conversations respectful and thoughtful when it comes to not only the current but the bigger picture.
“I understand the organizational view and I know there are potentially differences there, but the fact is we have quality players that we’re talking about and it’s exciting to see that either they’re currently starting the season with us or they’re not too off in the distant future.”
Managers traditionally want to win NOW while GM’s tend to take the longer view, are a little more cautious as they aren’t in a hurry to start the clock on a player. And nobody wants to rush a player, have him fail at the major league level when he isn’t ready and develop a lack of confidence. Many a player has been destroyed going that route.
Farrell can appreciate the view from both sides of the street. In addition to being a former pitching coach he was once the Cleveland Indians director of player development. That affords him an organizational insight that few managers possess.
It’s definitely been an aid.
“I think so, being on the other side of it and taking a player development type view of it,” Farrell said of his experience with Cleveland. “There is some first-hand experience in situations such as we’re facing right now with young players and when do you think they’re fully ready and the factors you have to weigh when you’re talking about any young player. Yeah, there’s a little bit greater perspective than saying no I want this guy and being belligerent about it.”
Beyond Lawrie and Gose, youthful prospects players such as outfielder Eric Thames and catcher Travis d’Arnaud have made giant strides in the organization’s eyes.
“They’re growing quickly right in front of our eyes,” Farrell said. “But in the meantime, they’ll continue to be used in the way they have been and they’ll continue to learn and provide feedback to them when opportunities present themselves. But more importantly they’ve handled themselves as pros and they’ve had a tremendous work ethic and made the most of their time here.”
In less than two weeks, we’ll know if Lawrie’s time has already arrived.