Lawrie Optimistic He'll Be Ready Opening Day

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Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie addresses reporters in Dunedin.

BY CHRIS TOMAN

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brett Lawrie arrived back in Dunedin at the Blue Jays' Minor League Spring Training facility Monday for the first time since suffering a rib strain on his left side in a Team Canada tuneup game prior to the start of the World Baseball Classic.

The 23-year-old met with trainers before addressing the media, where he was optimistic he will be ready for Opening Day on April 2 against Cleveland.

"Oh yeah, hopefully," Lawrie said. "As of right now, it feels night and day from when I first did it to what it is now. Just keep doing what I'm doing but I anticipate that I will be out there."

There is currently no timeline for when Lawrie will resume baseball activities again but, in the meantime, he will receive daily treatment and ride stationary bikes to keep his blood flowing.

The last thing he is going to do is force his way back on to the field before feeling 100 percent.

"Because if you do that, you run the risk of making it worse than it was and setting yourself back," Lawrie said. "You kind of have to pick and choose your spots."

Lawrie also said he doesn't expect to be starting Spring Training from scratch when he does return. He believes the time spent with the Blue Jays at the beginning of camp, as well as his brief stay with Team Canada, has prepared him well for the season.

"I have already got a number of at-bats under my belt," Lawrie said. "I've already been playing, so now it's just going to be getting back into my routine, getting back into the swing of things.

"I don't foresee that to be a problem or take a lot of time at all."

Lawrie injured himself diving for a ground ball in an exhibition contest against the Reds last Wednesday. He said he had to lay out "five or six times in a row" to both his left and right side and believes he must have landed funny in one of those instances.

"It just kind of felt a little different from my other side and I didn't really know what was going on," Lawrie said. "So I figured it was the best idea for myself to get myself out and take care of it."

An oblique strain he suffered last season, which cost him roughly a month of action, played a big part in Lawrie's decision to shut it down this time around.

Lawrie tried to play through the pain last season after aggravating his oblique, which only cost him in the long run by forcing him to spend time on the disabled list. The hope this time is that the quick decision to remove himself from the WBC will expedite the healing process.

"I learned, actually, big time," Lawrie said about last season's injury. "Last year I figured this would go away itself and I would be able to play ... but that was totally not the case. Eventually to the point where I swung one time and it did not feel like it was supposed to.

"Allowing myself to do what I did and take myself out of the spot was big for me."

Although the third baseman's injury is in the same area as last year, he said the pain is not comparable.

"The feeling is way different. Last year, it got to the point where it felt like somebody stuck a knife in my side. And that totally wasn't the case this time. I remember I couldn't even roll around in bed; you can't do anything, really."

As much as Lawrie wanted to represent Canada on the field in the WBC, he respects the fact he has another team that is relying on him, too.

"If I couldn't do [the WBC] healthy, it was time for me to take a step back and get ready for 162 games and get ready for my teammates, the Toronto Blue Jays," Lawrie said.

If Lawrie isn't ready for Opening Day, the Blue Jays will turn to a group of utility men to fill the void at third base. Mark DeRosa would appear to be the favorite to win the temporary position but Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio could also get time at the hot corner, as well.

But Lawrie doesn't think fans need to worry about him not suiting up for the opener.

"I caught it early enough," he said. "I'll be all right."

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