Lawrie returns ready to see time at second

Lawrie returns ready to see time at second

TORONTO -- Infielder Brett Lawrie made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Monday night following a six-game absence because of a right hamstring injury.

Lawrie had lingering tightness in the hamstring for more than a week before he was eventually pulled from a game vs. the Phillies on May 5. He had been listed as day to day but finally received clearance to play in the series finale vs. Los Angeles on Monday.

The 24-year-old got the start at third base vs. the Angels, but the next time he's in the lineup it will very likely be at second. Toronto intends to use Lawrie at second at least on a semi-regular basis in order to find playing time for Juan Francisco at third.

"It's not locked in that we're going to do it every time," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The key is Francisco hitting. If he keeps hitting, we want to get him in there."

Lawrie seemed less than enthused about the idea when he made a similar transition during Interleague Play by stating, "I'm a third baseman", but also has said on multiple times that he'll do whatever is best for the team. There's some debate about the upside of the move, but it's clear the Blue Jays have a better lineup offensively when Francisco is starting at third instead of using Steve Tolleson or Jonathan Diaz at second.

Gibbons has yet to commit on a time frame for how long the experiment with Lawrie at second base will last, but in a lot of ways it's up to Francisco. If Francisco hits like he did in his first 17 games with the team (.311 BA, .403 OBP, 1.026 OPS) he'll be in the lineup, and if he hits like he did in his past three (0-for-10, eight strikeouts) he won't.

"It was short and quick," Gibbons said of his meeting with Lawrie. "He said he was fine with it. If it helps the team, he's all for it."

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.