HOUSTON – Expect the Blue Jays' three most prominent injured players to return at different times, likely this month, with Brett Lawrie at the front of the line.
“It's good news he's playing,” said manager John Gibbons. “He beat the other two guys. I thought it would be the opposite.”
Lawrie played second base for Single-A Dunedin on Friday night. In four plate appearances, he went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, two runs scored and two strikeouts.
As has been the case for the entirety of the season, Lawrie won't have a strict positional home as he works his way back to the big leagues.
“(Saturday) he'll play third and then he'll go back to second. We'll play him both spots,” said Gibbons.
Lawrie suffered a fractured right index finger when he was hit in the hand by a Johnny Cueto pitch on June 22 in Cincinnati. His return to game action comes just shy of six weeks since the incident and he'll need ample time to get his offensive timing back.
Don't expect to see Lawrie for the early part of the next homestand, Gibbons cautioned.
“Last year we brought him back a couple of times without allowing a lot of playing time down there and he suffered for it, especially that first go around,” said Gibbons. “I would say it's at least a week (in the minor leagues).”
Meanwhile, Gibbons said Adam Lind (fractured right foot) could begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment early next week.
As for Edwin Encarnacion (strained right quadriceps), Gibbons said, “Eddie's making progress but he's not close at the moment.”
DICKEY ON THE DEADLINE
R.A. Dickey agreed to a trade to Toronto in December, 2012, with the assurance the Blue Jays were fully vested in competing for World Series championships.
He was measured in his comments to TSN.ca when approached on the club's silence as Thursday's trade deadline came and went.
“I think I was a little bit surprised. I think a few of us thought that we were going to get something done,” said Dickey. “Surprise doesn't necessarily mean disappointed but at the same time any help's always welcome. You think about it from the angle that you fought hard without a lot of the players that you really feel like make your best team up and you've kept it close and you're right there. A little help probably wouldn't have hurt. At the same you look around the locker room and you've got guys who've stepped up admirably.”
Dickey was intrigued by the number of deals involving high-profile big leaguers being moved for other major league talent. Boston and Oakland hooked up on a deal that saw Jon Lester join the Athletics, with Yoenis Cespedes moving east. Tampa Bay, Detroit and Seattle swung a three-way deal that landed David Price with the Tigers, Austin Jackson with the Mariners and Drew Smyly with the Rays.
The Jays decided not to be players; that or they couldn't be players, in smaller deals like the moves the Yankees pulled off for infielders Stephen Drew and Martin Prado.
“Everybody has a different opinion and that's okay,” said Dickey. “Some guys are probably more aggravated than others and some guys feel like it's not as big a deal as other guys. I feel like if we pitch well we're going to be in it. That's all it comes down to; if we pitch well we're going to have a shot at it. We weren't really in the market for a pitcher anyway so from my standpoint it's just a matter of trying to execute, trying to get our guys to be consistent in the rotation and being able to hand the ball off late in the game.”
GOINS PLAYING FOR TODAY
Ryan Goins looks like a different offensive player since his recall from Buffalo on July 22. In 10 games entering Friday's play, he was hitting .324 and just as importantly, hitting balls hard on a more consistent basis.
He credits a clear mind.
“If you're thinking about your mechanics while you're in the box, these pitchers are good enough that they're going to get you out a lot of the time,” said Goins. “I went to Buffalo and just said I'm going to go to the box with a clear mind every at-bat. That's what I've been doing.”
The message when he was sent back to Buffalo on April 28, having hit .150 to that point, was not to mope. He went about his business for almost three months, hitting .285/.331/.344 for the Bisons, before coming back to Toronto.
With the Blue Jays expecting the return of injured players Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion at different times this month, Goins knows his spot on the club isn't a sure thing. He has options, meaning he can be returned to Buffalo without first being exposed to irrevocable waivers, and is therefore a likely candidate to be sent down. If that happens, expect Goins to return when rosters expand to 40 players in September.
“You can't look forward,” said Goins. “I just take it day to day coming here. It's a true statement. Guys told me in Triple-A, the older guys, once you think you're in, you're out and once you think you're out, you're in. You never really know, day to day what it's going to be. I could be out of here in a week; we get guys coming off the DL, you never know.”