SARASOTA, Florida - Brett Lawrie's rib strain will keep him out of the World Baseball Classic.
Lawrie, 23, was injured in Canada's 12-2 exhibition loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday in Goodyear, Arizona. He removed himself in the fourth inning and the Blue Jays believe Lawrie's cautious approach may have spared him a worse fate.
"He said what he had last year was 10 times worse," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "But he knows, obviously, there was something there and he was smart to take himself out. I guess he felt something going to his left on a groundball and felt something on a swing but he's smart enough to have been through it and not take any chances and aggravate it."
Lawrie missed more than a month last season with an oblique injury, hurt in an August 3 game at Oakland. He didn't return until September 5.
"Last year I remember, it happened and he (said,) 'I just need a day or two, I want to play through it,'" said Anthopoulos. "He didn't know what it was so I think, no doubt, having gone through the experience (helped) and like I said it was 10 times worse last year."
The Blue Jays third baseman will remain with Team Canada for its WBC opener against Italy before returning to Dunedin on Monday for further evaluation.
Lawrie's injury is the latest blow to Team Canada, which lost its projected starting catcher last week when Russell Martin withdrew.
There are now eight Blue Jays participating in the WBC and four of them are Toronto mainstays. Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion are playing for the Dominican Republic, R.A. Dickey and J.P. Arencibia for the United States.
OTHER INJURY UPDATES
With more than three weeks remaining in spring training, the Blue Jays aren't going to rush anyone back from the infirmary.
Colby Rasmus, out for a week with a right shoulder injury, will not play until Saturday at the earliest.
"Instead of taking him that far tomorrow, we're giving him another day and then play him Saturday and Sunday," said Gibbons. "It's not worse than we thought, it just made sense. He'll play Saturday and Sunday and then we've got an off-day Monday."
Closer Sergio Santos, who is coming off shoulder surgery last summer, last pitched Sunday against the Phillies. He will be out through Monday after experiencing pain in his triceps after the outing and had an MRI, which revealed only inflammation.
"He didn't play catch today, he's going to play catch tomorrow," said pitching coach Pete Walker. "He wanted to play catch today but kept him out one more day and we'll get him out tomorrow, play catch and we'll kind of re-evaluate at that point. (We're) hoping to get him into a game after the off-day."
It seems unlikely Casey Janssen will be ready for opening day. The reliever is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and has recently progressed to throwing off a mound.
"Casey is going to throw a side on Saturday," said Walker. "Casey felt great, coming back from (the previous) side session, felt good throwing the ball again today. We're going to sit down and really hash out a schedule probably after his next side session."
Pitcher Chad Jenkins, likely ticketed for Triple-A Buffalo, is easing back from shoulder inflammation which has limited him to one inning of work this spring. He hasn't pitched since February 24 against Baltimore and had one stretch when he didn't throw a baseball for five days.
"He actually threw the ball (well) today," said Walker. "(He) looked good playing catch again today. I'm pretty sure we're going to throw a side tomorrow and go from there. But I think he's over the hump, I think he feels good right now and hopeful that we can get him in a game soon."
The Blue Jays conclude a run of three consecutive road games against the Atlanta Braves in Orlando.
Josh Johnson starts for Toronto and will pitch three innings. The rest of the pitching lineup looks like this:
Steve Delabar (1 inning)
Esmil Rogers (1)
Jeremy Jeffress (2)
Tyson Brummett (1)
Chad Beck (1)
Kris Medlen will get the start for the Braves.