Lawrie begins rehab assignment with Dunedin

Lawrie begins rehab assignment with Dunedin

Lawrie begins rehab assignment with Dunedin
TORONTO -- Top prospect Brett Lawrie will start a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Thursday night, batting third and playing third base, after missing more than a month with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand.

Lawrie struck out looking in his first at-bat, grounded out in his second and singled in a run in his third time up before being lifted in the top of the seventh inning.

The 21-year-old will remain with Dunedin throughout the weekend before being re-evaluated on Monday to determine the next step the organization wants to take with him. Lawrie could stay in Dunedin for more seasoning or return to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was playing before the injury.

But despite the team's desire to have Lawrie reach the Majors sometime this season, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said there is zero chance that he would be joining the Blue Jays after his stint in Dunedin.

"One million percent -- not even an option," Anthopoulos said. "He has to get back to Vegas, has to get his swing back, has to get his timing back."

Lawrie sustained the injury on May 31, when he was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat of a game against the Tucson Sidewinders. At the time it was believed that Lawrie was only a day or two away from being called up, but the injury threw a wrench into those plans.

Lawrie was hitting .354 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 52 games prior to the injury. He had made substantial strides in his discipline and patience at the plate since the team asked him to address those areas after he struck out 23 times and drew just four walks in 22 games in April.

The native of Langley, British Columbia, made immediate adjustments, and in 30 games in May, he struck out 17 times and drew 14 walks.

"The numbers in April were very good," Anthopoulos said. "The numbers in May were that much better because he was much more selective at the plate.

"We need to continue to see that on-base percentage and that walk rate be where it was in the month of May."

The Blue Jays purposely took their time with Lawrie's rehab in order to ensure a full recovery. And if Lawrie can come back and continue to put up impressive numbers, he may reach the Majors sooner rather than later.

The team is counting on the blue-chip prospect to join the Blue Jays at some point this summer and stay for the remainder of the season.

"We fully anticipate Brett getting here," manager John Farrell said. "His last four days have been very good. His last four days have been very good. His progression was, by design, held slow early on, but now that he's back to live batting practice, he's advancing very quickly."