Blue Jays have options if Lawrie not ready

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays remain optimistic that Brett Lawrie will be ready for the start of the season, but if he's not, the club has several options at its disposal.

Lawrie strained a muscle in his left rib cage and is expected to be out for two to three weeks. That would give him enough time to be ready for Opening Day, but the Blue Jays will eventually have to look for a plan B if there's any type of setback.

One option that likely won't happen is Jose Bautista making a return to third base. Bautista has spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues at third, and although a switch hasn't been totally ruled out, it appears extremely unlikely.

"We haven't talked about that," manager John Gibbons said. "It's always a possibility."

Gibbons was then pressed on the issue of a potential return to third for Bautista, but he quickly clarified the comment and dismissed any speculation. That could change if Lawrie's issue becomes a long-term thing, but for now there are other options that would take a priority.

Veteran utility man Mark DeRosa likely would see his fair share of time as Lawrie's replacement, and Maicer Izturis could make the transition from second. The same cannot be said for Emilio Bonifacio, who has been working through some throwing problems this spring.

The club would prefer that Bonifacio continue working at second in order to work out those kinks.

"He's still competing at second base, so we want to leave him there, let him do that," Gibbons said. "We brought DeRosa in to play that spot, too. It is all going to depend on how [Lawrie] progresses the next week or so, and we will get a better idea of how long it's going to take before we do anything."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.