Sports

Jays’ Lawrie lives up to the hype

Brett Lawrie fields a ground ball during the Toronto Blue Jays three game series at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.The 21-year-old Langley native was making his Major League debut and did not disappoint, registering his first hit, RBI and home run as well as hitting safely in all three games. - Todd OLSZEWSKI/Baltimore Orioles
Brett Lawrie fields a ground ball during the Toronto Blue Jays three game series at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.The 21-year-old Langley native was making his Major League debut and did not disappoint, registering his first hit, RBI and home run as well as hitting safely in all three games.
— image credit: Todd OLSZEWSKI/Baltimore Orioles

It didn’t take long for Brett Lawrie to live up to the hype.

Even before Lawrie made his Major League Baseball debut on Friday, Sportsnet was running promos featuring the 21-year-old from Langley.

And he did not disappoint.

With his parents Russ and Cheryl, and older sister Danielle, in attendance at Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series with the Baltimore Orioles, Lawrie wasted little time.

In his first at-bat, Lawrie — who was batting ninth for the Jays — lined an RBI single up the middle, and he finished the game 2-for-4. And after getting another single on Saturday, Lawrie capped off the weekend on Sunday with two more hits, including a solo home run.

Altogether, Lawrie finished the three-game series batting .455 (5-for-11) with two RBIs and a three-game hitting streak. And after committing one error on Friday, Lawrie settled down on defence, notching six assists in the finale.

“I feel very comfortable out there now,” Lawrie said on the team’s website. “It’s the same game. Breaking pitches are thrown for strikes a little bit more, but I think it’s just a bigger stadium, and the game seems maybe a little bit faster, a tad faster. But it’s the same game.”

His teammates gave him a shaving cream pie to the face and Gatorade shower following Friday’s debut.

Lawrie is set to make his home debut today (Tuesday) when the Jays host the Oakland A’s at Rogers Centre.

Another big thrill for Lawrie will be next week when Toronto begins a three-game set in Seattle at Safeco Field, just a few hours away from his friends and family in Langley and the Lower Mainland.

Lawrie, a 2008 first-round draft pick (16th overall) of the Milwaukee Brewers, was acquired by Toronto this past off-season.

He began the year with the Jays’ AAA affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, where he hit .353 with a team-high .661 slugging percentage in 69 games. He also led the 51s with 18 home runs and six triples and was third with 61 RBIs.

Lawrie was on the verge of being promoted to Toronto in late May before he fractured his left hand. After a month of rehabbing in Florida, he re-joined Las Vegas in mid-July.

He showed little rust, hitting .348 (24-for-69) in 17 games since being activated from the disabled list.

“We felt like, one, he was ready,” Toronto manager John Farrell said on the Blue Jays’ website. “Two, we wanted to get in a position where he joins us on the road.

“Finally, this is a guy that we’ve had a lot of expectations on. That’s not to create more of a hysteria situation, than the attention that’s going to follow him, but he has done everything we’ve asked at Triple-A.”

The Blue Jays felt it was important to get Lawrie some experience at the Major League level before rosters expand in September. That’s the same time of year where competition around the big leagues drops because of the arrival of Minor Leaguers and teams playing out the string.

This promotion will provide Lawrie with a larger sample size of games for the club to evaluate his talent. General manager Alex Anthopoulos also believes the club has done everything it could to prepare his young third baseman for the next step.

“We try to put these players in the best position to have success when they come up here,” Anthopoulos said. “You know you’re not going to be 100 percent sure. Like I always say, the likelihood, with all players, they’re likely going to have to go back down. But at least you want to do the best you can developmentally to prepare them for being up here.

“Hopefully now it’s one of those things with Brett where he can stay up here for the entire year.”

Lawrie graduated from Brookswood Secondary in 2008 and he played in the Langley Blaze Premier program.

He also represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as well as multiple times with the Canadian junior national team program.

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