Lawrie injury latest blow to Jays

Blue Jays batter Brett Lawrie, seen here legging out a ground ball during spring training, is on...

Blue Jays batter Brett Lawrie, seen here legging out a ground ball during spring training, is on the shelf for at least three weeks with a broken left hand. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:37 AM ET

KANSAS CITY - It was a battered and bruised Blue Jays team that arrived at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night.

Out of the lineup were shortstop Yunel Escobar and catcher J.P. Arencibia. Escobar was injured while sliding into second base in Tuesday’s victory, bruising his left quad. He was limping noticeably in the Jays clubhouse before the game.

Arencibia, meanwhile, has a bruised left thumb, the result of a foul tip in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game, the same thumb he dislocated three weeks back when the Jays entertained the Houston Astros.

But the injury that may have hurt the most was the one that surfaced hundreds of miles away as manager John Farrell announced that a CAT-scan revealed hot-shot prospect Brett Lawrie had suffered a non-displaced fracture to a bone in the back of his left hand and would be out of action a minimum of three more weeks.

Lawrie was just days away from being called up to Toronto when he was hit by a pitch in the back of his left hand while playing for triple-A Las Vegas on May 31.

Originally it was thought Lawrie would be back in a day or two but when swelling persisted, he was placed on the seven-day disabled list. At the time, X-rays and an MRI did not reveal anything was amiss.

But when the swelling went down a bone scan revealed the fracture.

“Yesterday it was determined that there was a fracture found on his left hand,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game. “There will be no baseball activity for two to three weeks. He has been returned to Florida to keep his overall conditioning as best possible and when he’s able to regain activity, we’ll get him back to Las Vegas, which is likely three weeks (the end of June).”

Injuries always seem to take longer to heal than first anticipated so Lawrie, the pride and joy of Langley, B.C., will likely be out for a three-week minimum. Then he’ll need a couple of weeks of game action which means he probably won’t be available to play for the Jays until after the July 11-13 all-star break.

Given that third base has been a black hole for the Jays offensively this season — the combination of Edwin Encarnacion, Jayson Nix, Mike McCoy and John McDonald have combined for a .188 average, four home runs and 22 RBIs — the setback is a blow to the big league club.

“It’s unfortunate considering how close he is,” Farrell said.

Getting back to the Jays, the injury to Escobar, coupled with the fact that McDonald is in Dunedin on the DL with a strained right hamstring, left Farrell with next to no bench players available in a pinch.

It’s been a minor miracle how Farrell has been able to run a team out there game after game given that management believes they require a 13-man pitching staff, five starters and eight relievers.

That leaves Farrell with a three-man bench and Wednesday his bench had just one healthy body in Encarnacion.

For the game, Farrell had McCoy at short with Jayson Nix at third. If McCoy were to go down with an injury, he said he would shift Nix to short, bring in Jose Bautista to play third and then move Juan Rivera to the outfield.

Any way you look at it it’s a bit of a mess and the three-man bench isn’t doing Farrell any favours.

The reason the Jays keep going with eight relievers is simple — they have no faith in the starting rotation to go deep into games.

As it stands now, Ricky Romero is the lone starter who has given the Jays consistent innings.

Going with eight relievers is not the way Farrell wants to go but it is the hand he has been dealt given the inconsistent performance of his starting staff.

“Right now we still feel like we need the extra reliever,” Farrell said. “We’ve got a delicate balance going on right now.”

He was asked if ideally, he’d like an added player on the bench?

“Ideally I’d like five starters to go eight innings every night,” he replied. “It’s all drawn up based on what the realistic expectations are for your starting rotation. That’s where it all centres around.

“Some teams with a veteran rotation are going with 11 pitchers. That would be an ideal situation. Then you know your game is going to be under control and stabilized by the guy that’s going to start the game — that’s an ideal situation. Then you can pinch-hit a little bit more, you can give guys a little blow with the rotation and still have a full compliment on the bench. But that’s not where we are.”

Where the Jays are now is with a beat up team and a shaky rotation.

It’s a miracle they’ve gotten as far as they have.


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