TORONTO – Brett Lawrie returned to the Toronto Blue Jays lineup Friday night, no worse for the wear from his memorable collision with Jason Varitek earlier this week.
The rookie third baseman plowed into the Boston Red Sox catcher during the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 5-4 win, getting cut down at home on a contact play after Adam Loewen hit a chopper to second.
Despite bowling Varitek to the ground, Lawrie left the game with bruised left knee after contact with the veteran’s shin guard. He explained Friday that he felt running into Varitek was the safest play and what the situation demanded.
“They know I’m going on contact, so everyone knows what’s going to happen,” Lawrie said. “He knows that he might have to take a lick, it’s just one of those situations where you have to make a decision. He does like to block the plate, he likes to give you a little bit and he likes to drop his left knee to take it away from you, me having that mindset and thinking he may drop a knee on me, it was like I have to create something instead of sliding in so he can jam me up and I can hurt myself even worse.
“It’s one of those things you’ve got to be aware of.”
Third base coach Brian Butterfield liked Lawrie’s determined approach on the play, but as a matter of course, urges his players to avoid contact whenever they can. Collisions can lead to wear and tear at best and injuries at worse, so he asks his baserunners to be smart.
“Varitek is one of the best in baseball at showing the plate and then taking it away late, so you have to go in there in an aggressive nature,” said Butterfield. “We had a predetermined contact break so the ball’s waiting on him. In talking about it with the team, we always try to promote hard slides into the plate but sometimes when the ball is there waiting for you, you have no other option.”
Lawrie went in shoulder first for a hit that would have made Don Cherry proud, Varitek absorbed it and held on for the out. And though it didn’t work out, Lawrie feels the way it went down speaks to how the Blue Jays play the game.
“I think so because we’re going to come in hard every time, we’re not going to sit back and slide away and let a guy just tag you out,” he said. “If you’re coming in, I’m coming in hot and whatever happens, happens. I’m not doing it to hurt anybody, I’m not doing it to go against the respect of the game, it’s either you go in and play the game hard, or you just slide in on the side. I came in hard.
“It just had to be done. It’s part of my game, that’s what I do and I take pride in that part of my game.”
IT CUTS LIKE A BLENDER: Brett Cecil expects to be ready to start Tuesday after his latest kitchen mishap forced him to skip his scheduled outing Friday.
The Blue Jays left-hander said he cut his left index finger cleaning out a blender in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park on Wednesday. He cut a finger slicing chicken last spring, and admitted he’s a little wary of stepping back in the kitchen.
“I mean, I’m scared of a butter knife right now,” he said warily. “It’s frustrating because I can’t pitch but they just want to make sure, just being careful. I asked (pitching coach Bruce Walton) if the team would be interested in hiring me a personal assistant.”
Cecil has no stitches and said he probably could pitch, but the concern was throwing would open the cut up more. Either way, he’s going to be much more careful around blenders in the future.
“It was a type of blade I had never seen, it had two blades that were sticking straight up and then two out to the side and I hit one of the ones that were sticking straight up,” said Cecil. “So if they were all how they were supposed to be then nothing would have happened. But yeah, oh well.”
AWARD TIME: Travis d’Arnaud, MVP of the double-A Eastern League, and triple-A Pacific Coast League batting champion David Cooper headline the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2011 R. Howard Webster Award winners unveiled Friday.
Joining them in being honoured as the most valuable player at each of the club’s minor-league affiliates are catcher A.J. Jiminez (single-A Dunedin), outfielder Jake Marisnick (low-A Lansing), left-hander Justin Nicolino (short season-A Vancouver), outfielder Chris Hawkins (rookie advanced Bluefield), shortstop Jorge Vega-Rosado (rookie Gulf Coast League Blue Jays) and left-hander Jairo Labourt (Dominican Summer League).
D’Arnaud batted .311 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who are competing for the Eastern League championship. A Baseball America coaches poll ranked him as the league’s best defensive catcher, and he was recently named to the American team for the IBAF World Cup and Pan American Games.
Cooper led the PCL with a .364 average, adding 51 doubles and 96 RBIs for the Las Vegas 51s. He’s the only member of this year’s winners currently with the Blue Jays.
Marisnick picked up a Webster for the second straight year, winning with the GCL Blue Jays in 2010. The 20-year-old batted .320 with 14 homers, 77 RBIs and 37 stolen bases for the Lansing Lugnuts.
The Blue Jays also named John Hendricks the Al Lamacchia Award winner for excellence in scouting, Tom Clark the 2011 pro scout of the year, Dennis Holmberg the Bobby Mattick Award winner for excellence in player development and Fisher Cats centre-fielder Anthony Gose the community service award winner.
OH CANADA: Blue Jays outfield prospects Michael Crouse and Marcus Knecht, both with single-A Lansing, and triple-A Las Vegas right-hander Scott Richmond were named to Baseball Canada’s 24-man roster for the upcoming IBAF World Cup and Pan American Games.
Other notables on the squad are Shawn Hill, the former Expos, Nationals and Jays pitcher who pitched for the 2004 Olympic team with a torn ligament in his elbow, plus longtime national team veterans Mike Johnson, Jimmy VanOstrand, Cole Armstrong and Shawn Bowman.
The World Cup runs Oct. 2-15 in Panama, with the Pan Am Games following right after Oct. 19-26 in Guadalajara and Lagos de Mareno, Mexico.