Brett Lawrie's excellent adventure

Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie, left, is interviewed on the field before the Blue Jays' MLB...

Toronto Blue Jays Brett Lawrie, left, is interviewed on the field before the Blue Jays' MLB American League baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, Maryland August 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Joe Giza)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:13 PM ET

TORONTO - In mid-May of 2008 Tom McNamara was where most national cross checkers were.

"In California looking at amateur players," McNamara said Friday.

When his phone rang it was Milwaukee Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik.

Zduriencik asked McNamara to fly to the Dominican to watch the Canadian Junior National Team and possible first rounder Brett Lawrie.

The same Brett Lawrie, who made his major-league debut with the Blue Jays in Baltimore Friday against the Orioles.

Now, this would be a different story if Lawrie made his debut for the Brewers at Miller Park with McNamara on hand, a tear trickling down his cheek.

Lawrie played two years in the Milwaukee system and at last December's winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the Langley, B.C. native was dealt to the Jays for right-hander Shaun Marcum.

It was good deal for both clubs.

Marcum is 10-3 for the Brewers.

Lawrie is with the Jays, although two months later than expected after tearing up the Pacific Coast League pitching and then tearing up his hand when hit by a pitch.

The game is a business.

Lawrie switched teams.

Both Zduriencik, as general manager, and McNamara, as scouting director, moved on to work for the Seattle Mariners.

The Brewers took Lawrie with their first-round pick, 16th over-all, one slot ahead of the Jays, although in 2008 the Jays were mostly operating on a "college-only" philosophy.

While the main characters are now drawing pay cheques from different teams the story of how the Brewers came to choose Lawrie as a first rounder remains unchanged.

Zduriencik's last-minute, change-of-plans call to McNamara is the norm for top scouts who sit in war rooms fielding questions like: "Is the right-hander in Florida better than the one in Texas?" They board plenty of flights the final three weeks before the June draft.

McNamara flew into Miami and on to Santo Domingo, arriving at 2 a.m.

He slept fast and the next morning went to the Mariners' complex at Villa Mella for batting practice before the Canadian juniors faced the Mariners rookie-class Dominican summer league team in a doubleheader.

Lawrie hit five home runs -- yup, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 -- in a doubleheader sweep of the Mariners rookie-class squad.

All were on 90-plus mph fastballs.

He drove in 11 runs as the Canadian high-schoolers swept the doubleheader 8-5 and 14-5.

Lawrie pulled two of his five homers to left, two went to the right and the final one to straightaway centre.

Scouts are all about projection -- as in what the player will look like in three or four years when he finishes growing.

But they still get excited when they see results.

"And the worst part was every time I tried to phone Jack in Milwaukee to give him an update, I couldn't get any cell service," McNamara said.

Finally back at the hotel McNamara reached his boss, told him of the day and said: "What more can I see? I just saw him hit five homers."

Zduriencik replied: "Why don't you stay another day."

"First time up against the Angels, he homered again," McNamara said years later.

Besides McNamara, Brewers' Canadian scouts Marty Lehn of Vancouver and London's Jay Lapp pushed to draft Lawrie.

And Zduriencik was speaking to eager ears when he delivered the news to GM Doug Melvin, who is from Chatham, Ont., and assistant GM Gord Ash who is from Toronto, that he wanted to make Lawrie the highest Canadian high school position player ever drafted. Scott Thorman of Cambridge had been chosen 30th in 2000.

The other Canadian first rounders had been pitchers: Adam Loewen, Surrey, B.C., (fourth) to the Orioles in 2002; Jeff Francis, North Delta, B.C., (ninth) to the Rockies in 2002; Phillippe Aumont, Gatineau, Que., (11th) to the Mariners in 2007 and Toronto's Dave Wainhouse (19th) to the Montreal Expos in 1998.

Lehn laughed when asked what was the most amazing thing he's seen Lawrie do.

"I first saw him at age 13, scouted him at age 16, but I don't think anything will top his five-homer day in the Dominican," said Lehn, a Team Canada coach on manager Greg Hamilton's staff. "That might not happen in Little League -- with the wind blowing out."

Lawrie hit .486 (17-for-35) with eight homers and 24 RBIs with the Canadian national junior team on the Dominican tour.

On draft day the Brewers had fretted about both the Cincinnati Reds' and Minnesota Twins' interest in Lawrie. The Reds, choosing seventh, picked first baseman Yonder Alonso, who has played 29 games in the majors. The Twins, selecting 14th, picked outfielder Aaron Hicks, who is at class-A Fort Myers.

As for Lawrie, he has gone from the Brewers to the Jays to Camden Yards.

MOTOWN MELTDOWN

Jeff Weaver's Meltdown in Motown last week could affect who the Blue Jays see when the Los Angeles Angels head to Rogers Centre next weekend.

Weaver was suspended for six games for throwing at Detroit's Carlos Guillen.

He has, however, appealed his suspension and was scheduled to make the start Friday night in Seattle.

After that start he could drop his appeal and begin serving the suspension Saturday, enabling him to pitch next Saturday against the Blue Jays.

However, if he doesn't drop the appeal the Angels will need a second replacement starter as Joel Pineiro has already been dropped from the rotation.

Two days after Guillen's post-homer showboating, manager Mike Scioscia was asked by a reporter if Guillen had been flamboyant.

"Flamboyant is not too strong of a word, the only thing missing was the cartwheel."


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