The next time John Gibbons pencils Brett Lawrie into the lineup, the 23-year-old could be playing second base.
The Toronto Blue Jays manager joined the Jeff Blair show on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN Wednesday and said he’s intrigued by the possibility of playing Lawrie and Jose Reyes up the middle.
“It’s been something we talked about off and on,” Gibbons told Blair.
The manager explained that playing Lawrie at second base would allow the team to make the most of his range.
“It was an option looking at the way the team stacked up and what the future might hold,” Gibbons said.
If the Blue Jays do move Lawrie to second base, Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa would handle third base with occasional help from Edwin Encarnacion. That said, the Blue Jays may elect not to move Lawrie to second.
“It’s just one thing we’re looking at. Right now there’s no guarantee it’s going to happen,” Gibbons said.
Lawrie’s days at third base are not over, according to Gibbons.
The infielder played second base in a rehabilitation game for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons Wednesday, a contest in which he also hit a home run. The Blue Jays placed him on the disabled list with a left ankle sprain on May 29.
Gibbons said that he has been pleased with Izturis's recent production at the hot corner, noting that he has “really settled in nicely over there.”
PITCHING UPDATES: Gibbons liked what he saw from starter Josh Johnson in Cleveland Tuesday night. The right-hander had good velocity and did a better job of attacking hitters in Gibbons’ view.
The Blue Jays didn't score in support of Johnson, who pitched seven innings while allowing two earned runs. In seven starts since returning from the triceps injury that sent him to the disabled list, Johnson has a 3.54 ERA.
Though the Blue Jays used right-handed reliever Steve Delabar extensively in the first half, that was mostly “out of necessity.”
Gibbons recently gave Delabar a week off before calling on him to make his 36th appearance of the season Tuesday. The 29-year-old has been battling some shoulder stiffness, but is doing fine now.
“He’s as strong as ever and we don’t think there’s really anything to worry about,” Gibbons said. “But we’ll still be cautious.”
The Blue Jays have monitored the workload of Casey Janssen, who also experienced some shoulder soreness in the first half. On days that Janssen needs a break, the Blue Jays are comfortable relying on Delabar or Brett Cecil to close games.
“If we need to we can throw somebody else into that role,” Gibbons said.
The manager also noted that R.A. Dickey will start against the Indians Thursday partly because the Blue Jays don’t want the Baltimore Orioles to get a fourth look at Dickey. They have already faced him three times in 2013.