TAMPA — Brett Lawrie arrived at his first Blue Jays camp with a fresh start, a fresh attitude and a new position to learn.
Obtained from the Milwaukee Brewers for veteran right-hander Shawn Marcum, Lawrie has looked every bit the blue-chip player that was expected since the Brewers took him in the first round of the 2008 June draft (16th pick overall).
His play has been so dazzling at times this spring that the lone question surrounding him has been not if he will make it to the big leagues, but when, and will it be April 1 of this season.
The ease in which Lawrie has settled into third has been one of the more pleasant developments of the spring for the Jays
“He sure has,” Tony LaCava, the Jays assistant general manager and vice-president of baseball operations replied when asked if Lawrie is surprising people with how well he is adapting to the new position. “He’s showed the ability to make the above-average play, which is interesting. That gives him a chance to be better than average.
“An average fielder should make average plays. The work will come with him when he has to make the routine plays, when he gets to make all of them and makes them regularly and becomes consistent with that. He has also shown the ability to make the above-average play which is really exciting. So, he’s exceeding our expectations defensively so far.”
“He’s doing some things at third base that some guys never ever do,” LaCava said. “Some times when he’s deep and gets an in-between hop, he knows to play through it instead of laying back and getting eaten up. He’s aggressive by nature and at times that’s how you have to play third base. It’s a reactive position and I think he has the skill sets to do it.”
For his part, Lawrie said his goals for the spring were to get to befriend his new teammates, get established and have some fun.
“It’s just been an opportunity for me to open up some eyes,” he said. “The more you get to know your teammates the easier it is to play because your surroundings are so much better. That’s been the thing for me here, just go out and have some fun and play the game like I’ve always played it.”
With Lawrie, that means with passion and fire and pizzazz.