Lawrie ready for action

Brett Lawrie, out of action since tweaking a groin muscle on Mar. 17, hopes to return to active...

Brett Lawrie, out of action since tweaking a groin muscle on Mar. 17, hopes to return to active duty for the Blue Jays Saturday in Dunedin, Fla. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters file photo)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:40 PM ET

DUNEDIN, FLA. - Saturday is the expected return date for Brett Lawrie.

The Jays’ third baseman has been out of the lineup since he tweaked his groin in a Mar. 17 game against Atlanta.

For the past three days Lawrie has been taking his cuts in batting practice, fielded ground balls and has participated in some running drills.

“We’ll increase his baseball activity today particularly with ground balls, a little more lateral work,” manager John Farrell said Thursday. “He is not in the lineup today (against Philadelphia) and we’ll push that back to Saturday (when the Jays are home again) at the earliest.

“He continues to be improved every day but we’re going to err on the side of caution. He’s making steady progress and we want to be sure we take him through the appropriate progression. He ran yesterday five times at 90 feet and there were no problems there. That will continue today but there are no restrictions swinging the bat. We are very confident that he’s going to be fine. We’re just taking our time with this.”

SANTOS HAS A NEW ‘WEAPON’

Sergio Santos, the Jays’ new closer, has been out of sight the past week or so working making improvements to his changeup.

Santos, who is a mid-to-high 90s with his fastball and also possesses an above-average slider, is looking to add another weapon to his arsenal.

“He threw in a game here Thursday (simulated) and he’s back on the mound Saturday and after that every other day,” manager John Farrell said of Santos’ work schedule through the end of spring training. “Whether we get him a back-to-back before breaking camp remains to be seen. He feels good and he’s back in the regular turn here.”

Why have they been going slow with him the past two weeks?

“It was about a seven-day period where he threw bullpens to concentrate on his changeup,” Farrell said. “He came into camp in such good shape, was throwing the ball really well, powerful, felt great. We just felt like there were a couple of things that we could address in that setting.

“He talked in the off-season about using his changeup a little more frequently and we spent a couple of bullpens working on that and yesterday was a very good outing for him.”

Farrell added that the changeup won’t be just a ‘show’ pitch.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to replace his fastball but it’s a clear weapon for him,” he said.

STATUS QUO FOR ALEX

General manager Alex Anthopoulos may have been looking to add a veteran bat and starter in the off-season but that search has all but dried up.

What you see on the Jays current roster is what you will get when the season opens for them in Cleveland, April 5. “When you get into the last week, the last two, three days there’s always the chance that a trade could come up but I don’t see us doing anything,” Anthopoulos said Thursday. “We’re not actively talking to anybody.

“When teams are starting to make their cuts and out-of-option guys are available, maybe somebody becomes available the end of spring. Things like that can happen. But with respect to big changes, positional changes things like that, I would be surprised.”

MORROW’S STELLAR SPRING

Brandon Morrow would gladly take his work against the Phillies on Thursday to his opening start of the regular season against the Cleveland Indians.

In five shutout innings the right-hander allowed just one hit with two walks and a strikeout. Just as impressively, it took Morrow just 60 pitches to cruise through his day’s work.

“I think more than anything he’s taken this spring training to go out and pitch rather than go out and throw the baseball,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s been able to do a number of things, particularly with his off-speed stuff.”

The low pitch count was also worthy of praise.

“It’s very positive that he’s not relying on just sheer power with a hard fastball and hard cutter,” Farrell said. “He’s disrupted some hitters’ timing (with the off-speed stuff) and when he’s able to get guys out front that’s when he’s able to get a two and three-pitch out which is what we’re looking for to get deeper into ball games. It was just a very solid outing for him today.”

Morrow agrees with his manager regarding being a pitcher now and not just a thrower.

“I’m thinking through at-bats and watching the way they’re reacting to balls and calling a little bit more of my own game, shaking the pitches,” Morrow said. “So, yeah, all positives.”

THURSDAY’S GAME

Blue Jays 2, Phillies 0

* RF Jose Bautista was 2-for-2 with two doubles.

* Bautista also stole a base and made a fielding error.

* RHP Brandon Morrow allowed one hit and no runs in his five innings.

* 1B Adam Lind drove in the first Jays run with a single to right.

* 2B Kelly Johnson was 3-for-4 with one RBI.


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