TORONTO -- Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie was forced to miss Tuesday afternoon's game against the Braves because of a sprained left ankle.
Lawrie suffered the injury while stealing second base during the sixth inning of Toronto's 9-3 victory on Monday night. He temporarily remained in the game, but was eventually lifted for a pinch-runner.
The 23-year-old Lawrie is technically listed as day to day, but the Blue Jays cannot afford to wait too long before deciding whether he will require a stint on the 15-day disabled list.
"We can't drag this out too long with him," manager John Gibbons said on Tuesday morning. "We'll have a better idea by the end of the day or definitely by tomorrow."
The Blue Jays are set to play their first game of the season in a National League park on Wednesday night in Atlanta. The club can ill afford to carry a short bench because of an increased need for pinch-hitters during NL play. Therefore, a decision on Lawrie's status can only be put off for so long.
If Lawrie does require an extended period of time off, the Blue Jays could promote Minor League third baseman Andy LaRoche from Triple-A Buffalo. LaRoche is hitting .295 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 41 games for the Bisons.
The only option that Gibbons has ruled out is moving Edwin Encarnacion to third. That would allow Toronto to find a spot in the lineup for the hot-hitting Adam Lind at first base, but Gibbons said it's not something that he is considering at this time.
Encarnacion came up through the Minor Leagues at third base, but appeared at the position only once last season. Instead, the club will go with someone who has more recent experience, who will likely split time with veteran Mark DeRosa.
"I don't know which way we'll go, to be honest with you, but we don't want to be left short-handed," Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays will undoubtedly miss Lawrie's defense at third, but so far this season, the third-year player has yet to figure things out at the plate. He is hitting just .209 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 37 games.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less