Lawrie plays second base in first rehab game

Blue Jays infielder likely to play third vs. righties when he returns to Majors

Lawrie plays second base in first rehab game

HOUSTON -- Blue Jays infielder Brett Lawrie is one step closer to making a return after his rehab assignment officially got underway on Friday night.

Lawrie started at second base for Class A Advanced Dunedin in his first game action since sustaining a fractured right index finger on June 22. He finished the night 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, two runs scored and a pair of strikeouts.

The 24-year-old Lawrie is expected to play at least a few games in Dunedin before possibly advancing to Triple-A Buffalo to complete his rehab.

"He's going to need some playing time," manager John Gibbons said. "Last year, we brought him back a couple of times without a lot of playing time down there and he suffered for it. We brought him back out of desperation, so he needs to get his timing back. I have to believe it's at least a week."

Lawrie was expected to return as an everyday third baseman but that plan changed after the Blue Jays acquired infielder Danny Valencia in a trade with the Royals earlier this week. The expectation is that Lawrie will now start at third base vs. right-handers and at second vs. lefties.

It's a similar role to the one that Lawrie had earlier this season. The only difference is that Lawrie started at third vs. lefties and at second vs. righties. He originally made the transition to allow Juan Francisco to enter the starting lineup and the same accommodation likely will be made for Valencia.

Valencia was acquired because of his ability to hit lefties. He has a career .331 average and .876 OPS compared to a .228 average and .623 OPS against righties. Toronto wants to find a way to get him some regular playing time in the right situation.

"[Saturday], he'll play third and then he'll move back to second," Gibbons said of Lawrie. "We'll play him in both spots. We'll see how it all shapes up when that time comes. What's good is that he's playing."

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.