DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays will be without third baseman Brett Lawrie for at least the first four games of the regular season.
Toronto announced on Monday morning that Lawrie will begin the year on the 15-day disabled list. The transaction can be backdated to March 22, which means Lawrie cannot be reinstated until the club's fifth game of the season.
Lawrie, a career .278 hitter, previously had been optimistic about being ready for Opening Day, but that changed when his strained right oblique muscle didn't improve as originally anticipated.
"It's not a pain, it just doesn't feel like my other side, it just feels like something is different," Lawrie said. "If something's different, we've got to address that, we've got to get it better, I've got to ease on the brakes here and let it get better.
"I do everything I can possibly do in treatment, I can only do so much treatment and ride the bike so many times, and stretch. I can only do so much, it's going to get better when it wants to. I've just got to give it the opportunity to."
Lawrie suffered the injury while playing in an exhibition game for Team Canada prior to the start of the World Baseball Classic. He spent the past couple of weeks going through light baseball activities but will now ease off the workload in an effort to rest and rehab.
The injury is somewhat similar to what Lawrie went through last year but on the opposite side of his body. The native of Langley, British Columbia, missed more than a month last season, but he described this ailment as less severe.
The one thing Lawrie remains unsure of is when he'll be able to return. He's currently taking things day-by-day and while the hope is that Lawrie can return for a game on April 6 against the Red Sox there's no guarantee that will happen.
"I can't give a timetable, it's so hard," Lawrie said. "Everyone asks me every day, 'How does it feel?' It feels fine to be quite honest with you but it just does not feel like my other side and that's a problem, it raises a red flag to myself.
"You can't go out there and expect to be who you are if everything doesn't click. Sure, you could go out there and suck it up for a few games, but what happens when I have to go back to the manager and say 'Yeah it's sore,' and then I have to go through this whole process again."
The Blue Jays have a few different options to choose from while waiting for Lawrie to recover. Utility man Mark DeRosa likely will see the bulk of the workload, but Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio also are candidates to start at third base.
Toronto is expected to go with an eight-man bullpen during Lawrie's absence, which means Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress are both expected to crack the Opening Day roster.
The Blue Jays acquired Lawrie from Milwaukee prior to the 2011 season, and he hit .267 in seven Spring Training games this season.