TORONTO – It's a good thing you've gotten used to life without a healthy Brett Lawrie. It's time to draw on that experience and let it guide you through the foreseeable future.
After playing just three innings in Tuesday night's game, Lawrie's highly anticipated return from a 36-game absence with a fractured right index finger, he took himself out of the game with what initially was described as lower back tightness.
Turns out the 24-year-old has a strained oblique muscle, his third in three seasons in what's become a chronic pattern of core body injuries, and will be out for at least the remainder of August.
"The biggest thing is it's not the same injury that he had in 2013," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "That being said, from a recovery standpoint, obliques can take anywhere from three to six weeks. So you just don't know how he's going to recover, how strong he's going to feel. Everybody recovers at their own pace."
Lawrie's injury is on the left side, which resembles his oblique strain of last year, but it's in a different location. Anthopoulos said his third baseman insisted he hadn't felt pain during his minor league rehab assignment. The issue flared up during batting practice on Tuesday but Lawrie initially didn't feel it was serious enough to ask out of that night's starting lineup.
Anthopoulos said Lawrie has gotten better at communicating his aches and pains over the years.
"Especially with him having been through it, he's become a lot more intelligent with knowing his body and knowing when to try to push through things and when to scale back," said Anthopoulos. "Especially with obliques, knowing how long you can take to recover, I think it's just one of those things that happened."
Lawrie is still young, both in age and in major league experience. This is just his third full season on a major league roster. He's still looking for his first completely healthy season. Since the start of 2012, Lawrie's played in 302 of the Jays' 439 games (including Thursday's series finale with Baltimore). That's an appearance rate of 68.8-percent.
He missed time in May with a tight hamstring, although he didn't go on the disabled list. He's also had the finger and now the oblique. Last year, it was an oblique strain, followed by a severely sprained ankle suffered while sliding into second base. In 2012, it was the oblique. There's been a broken hand and other nicks and bruises.
Maybe Lawrie is just injury-prone. Maybe the Blue Jays need to alter Lawrie's training regimen. He's tightly wound, cutting as muscular a figure as you'll see on a ballplayer.
"The tough one on this one is we don't know what the cause was," said Anthopoulos. "Even at the World Baseball Classic, he had a full month to get ready for games and he went down there and I think he dove for a ball and he felt it there. I'm going to talk to our guys. Obviously it's a new thing but at some point maybe we'll do some things with Brett that maybe we think can prevent (future injury)."
Adam Lind has recovered from a fractured right foot and played in a Gulf Coast League game on Thursday, going 2-for-2 with two doubles and a run scored before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.
"I spoke to him two days ago, just asking about his timing at the plate and he mentioned to me, he says he didn't feel he was going to need a lot of rehab games," said Anthopoulos. "He just felt his timing was there. He said he faced Neil Wagner and (Roberto) Osuna, who were throwing hard."
Anthopoulos pegged Monday in Seattle as a possible return date for Lind, who went on the disabled list on July 8 after playing almost a month with a fracture in his right foot, suffered on a foul ball on June 14 in Baltimore.
Edwin Encarnacion is swinging a bat and running the bases at the Blue Jays' complex in Dunedin, Florida.
Anthopoulos pegged Encarnacion's return for sometime on the next road trip, no later than the Chicago series but possibly as early as Seattle. The Jays visit the Mariners next Monday to Wednesday and the White Sox from a week Friday to Sunday.
No Team Meeting
Anthopoulos didn't feel it necessary to call his team together to explain why the ballclub was quiet at the trade deadline.
"No, I don't think there's anything to address," said Anthopoulos. "I think I was asked about it that day and my response was I expect players to want to get better, to want to win. I wouldn't expect anything else. I'd be more surprised if players came out and said, 'Wow, this is great, we're so glad we didn't add any players.'"
Jose Bautista and Casey Janssen were critical of the club's decision not to make any improvements. Anthopoulos said there were no deals available which would have made the Blue Jays better, citing what would-be trade partners were asking in return.