Lawrie keeps in touch with old teammates

Brett Lawrie had a RBI single in his first big league at bat. (REUTERS)

Brett Lawrie had a RBI single in his first big league at bat. (REUTERS)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

Brett Lawrie phoned his pal Nick Bucci on Thursday.

“We text all the time, he doesn’t usually call out of the blue,” Bucci said from Melbourne, Fla., on Friday night, also known as NOD ... Night Of the Debut.

“So, I ask: ‘When you getting the call?’ and he said: ‘Skip told me this morning, headed to Baltimore tonight.’”

When Bucci left the mound after 4 2/3 innings in his start for class-A Brevard County, a 9-3 loss to Dunedin on Friday, he wasn’t pleased with his outing.

Working out in the trainer’s room, he asked Tommy Craig to check out MLB.com and saw his pal had delivered a run-scoring, single in his first major-league at-bat.

Two of the Langley, B.C., third baseman’s best pals with the Canadian Junior National Team were pitchers Evan Grills of Whitby and Sarnia’s Bucci.

We heard someone on a sports show say that the Jays now had their first Canadian superstar.

We read someone else compare Lawrie’s Canadian presence with the Jays to what Larry Walker was for the Montreal Expos.

We saw a headline of Lawrie’s promotion entitled “The Most Important Call-Up in Franchise History.”

Take a breath, a deep breath.

Lawrie, 21, in his third year as a pro, will awake Sunday with two games played in the majors.

Bucci, 21, a fourth-year pro with the Milwaukee Brewers, is in the Florida State League.

Grills, 19, in his second year with the Houston Astros, is with rookie-class Gulf Coast Astros.

The game chews up and spits out phenoms.

Advance scouts, pitching coaches and major-league pitchers with pinpoint control find weaknesses and exploit it ... see Travis Snider.

Take a breath and think of where Lawrie’s pals are and be patient.

“The three of us became close with the junior national team,” Bucci said. “Our personalities are alike: We play the game hard, off the field we’re laid back and like to have fun.”

Watching on MLB.com, Bucci saw the highlights: Lawrie’s run-scoring single, the quick shot of Lawrie’s sister and parents in the seats “with his mom wearing her Team Canada jersey.”

“Brett looked intense and aggressive, he’s always intense and aggressive,” Bucci said. “He’s a typical Canadian, he’s hard nosed and plays with a hockey player’s mentality. He’s different once you get to know him.”

Obviously the two have a good relationship.

After congratulating Lawrie on Thursday, Bucci said: “Enjoy batting ninth.”

Lawrie shot back: “I’ll hit lead off.”

Lawrie hit ninth.

“He has enough confidence, we like to chip away at it,” Bucci said.

After Bucci’s game, one in which he took the loss allowing five runs — three earned — on six hits and two walks to fall to 7-10 with a 3.65 ERA, he looked up the Jays box score.

Then, Bucci texted Lawrie:

“Congrats man, 2-for-4, with an error, typical day for u.”

Busy in Baltimore, Lawrie had not responded when we spoke to Bucci, but Bucci’s best guess on Lawrie’s response?

“What are u doing in ‘A’ ball?”

Not far away, in Kissimmee, Fla., Grills was unable to pick up the Sportsnet feed. He was anxious to hear how his friend fared.

“Brett deserves everything he gets,” Grills said. “He doesn’t care what everyone thinks, he’s always trying to become better than the next guy.”

Everyone, including Grills, knows about Lawrie’s five-homer doubleheader day in the Dominican Republic. The lefty also recalls another magic moment by Lawrie.

“We were playing Chinese Taipei about the third game of the World juniors in Edmonton,” Grills said. “I came on in relief, pitched the ninth and the 10th, then James Kottaras singled to lead off the bottom of the 10th. Brett hits a walk-off triple to right centre at Telus Field.

“I remember charging onto the field, it was a cool experience.”

That was way, way back in 2008 when life was good, they were teenagers wearing red and white Canada jerseys.

Be patient with Brett Lawrie.

Do not expect five homers every two games as he did in the Dominican that May afternoon.

A year ago at double-A Huntsville he had 16 triples and eight homers in 135 games.

This year in Vegas where the ball flies like chips at the black jack table as a drunken player watches the dealer draw an ace, Lawrie had 24 doubles, six triples and 18 homers in 69 games.

Take a deep breath.

REMEMBERING HIS ROOTS

Lawrie sent a personal note wishing Team B.C. good luck at the Canadian Little League championships, which began Saturday in North Vancouver. Lawrie’s note to former Langley coach Jason Andrews read:

“Hey guys, this is Brett Lawrie from the Toronto Blue Jays. I heard that you had won district and I want to send my personal congratulations to each and every one of you.

“I remember when I was your age, I played in the Cal Ripken World Series and had an absolute blast. I wish you guys the best of luck in your games and to have as much fun as you can. All the best guys. Go Canada.”

STOPPING GOSE

How would a former major league catcher slow down speedy Anthony Gose, who has stolen a franchise-record 50 bases at double-A New Hampshire.

“The first thing I’m going to do is a hold,” said the catcher, referring to when the pitcher comes to the set position, stands there and waits until the hitter or runner calls time.

“I’d have my pitcher use a slide steps on the second pitch, throw when the runner’s not ready. By the third pitch if he’s not going, maybe we have learned something. Every base stealer has a tell (when they are going), whether they lean, get lower or something.”

 

TWO MORE CANUCKS SIGN ON

Two more drafted Canadians signed this week.

Toronto catcher Justin Marra, selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 15th round, received a $110,000 US signing bonus.

Edmonton outfielder Cory Scammell, a 35th rounder, signed with the Seattle Mariners.

Earlier, Vancouver’s right-hander Vaughn Covington, an 11th rounder, signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $150,000.

Of the 35 Canadians drafted 20 have signed heading toward the Aug. 15 deadline. The top Canadian drafted, Tom Robson of Ladner, B.C., chosen in the fourth round by Toronto, remains unsigned.

Marra’s ex-team, the Ontario Blue Jays, are 2-0 at the Mickey Mantle World Series in McKinney, Tex., the best start ever by a Canadian team.

 

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

An AL exec: “Robbie Alomar, Devon White, Paul Molitor, Kelly Gruber, those World Series teams had athletes. You weren’t a fan if you didn’t shake your head and say ‘did you see that?’ The Texas Rangers have the best athletes and the most talent now. The Cleveland Indians are close behind.”

A major-leaguer on Jays’ Colby Rasmus: “I became a better player when I told my father to stay out of my professional life. Colby may have to do the same.”

An ex-manager on Cito Gaston: “Cito could play a pat hand and play it well. Like Joe Torre. Give ‘em talent, they’ll win. They won’t do anything to mess things up. I saw Cito with young guys like Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado and Alex Gonzalez. Not good.”

An induction day suggestion by a Rogers Communications employee: “Why wouldn’t Rogers hire buses to get us to Cooperstown. We’d have paid. Out of 4,000 employees there are Jays fans at our place.”

 

JAYS HAVE LONG WAY TO GO WITH SIGNING PICKS

With nine days remaining before the Aug. 15 deadline to sign drafted players, 18 of the Jays’ top 22 selections are unsigned.

Their first and fifth picks, both right-handed high schoolers, Tyler Beede of Groton, Mass., and Kevin Comer of Tabernacle, N.J., have been to Toronto for their physicals.

Beede was the 21st player selected overall and Comer 57th. Both have committed to Vanderbilt University.

The Jays have signed their second and third picks: Outfielder Jacob Anderson, a Chino, Calif., high schooler and right-hander Joe Musgrove, an El Cajon, Calif., high schooler.

Scouting director Andrew Tinnish gave Anderson a $990,000 US bonus, according to Baseball America, $90,000 above slot for the 35th player chosen in North America.

Anderson won the home run derby at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last summer, a showcase Whitby’s Ryan Kellogg and North York’s Gareth Morgan and will attend later this month.

 

'THE PERFECT RED SOX'

With Erik Bedard headed for New England an ESPN tweet went out he has “J.D. Drew’s durability and John Lackey’s media relations skill. He’s the perfect Red Sox player.”

Bedard’s coach at Norwalk (Conn.) Community College, Patrick Vigilio defended Bedard to the Pawtucket Times.

“He’s a very even-keeled person, never gets too high, never gets too low and his demeanor hasn’t changed much at the pro level,” Vigilio said. “Regardless of the situation, up 8-0 or down 4-0, his composure pretty much stays the same.

“Erik established himself in the big leagues and has overcome injuries that others have never returned from. That speak volumes about his determination and willingness to continue to be a pro. He’s going to give a great effort for Boston like he did with Baltimore and Seattle.”

The Navan, Ont., lefty helped Norwalk reach the Division III Junior College World Series in 1998 and the next year earned Div. III player of the year kudos. He was then drafted in the sixth round by Baltimore.


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