Lawrie activated, then exits with back tightness

Third baseman was playing first game since June; he will undergo an MRI

Lawrie activated, then exits with back tightness

TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie's return to the Blue Jays' lineup lasted all of three innings before he was removed from Tuesday night's 9-3 loss to the Orioles because of tightness in his lower back.

Lawrie was activated off the 15-day disabled list prior to the series opener against Baltimore. He hadn't played since he fractured his right index finger in Cincinnati on June 22.

The back wasn't an issue during his recent rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Dunedin, but it became a problem in his first game back. Lawrie noticed some discomfort during batting practice and it continued through the early stages of the series opener.

"It was kind of just grabbing at me as I was warming up," Lawrie said. "The more I went about my business in what I was trying to do it was like, all right, something in there is bugging me and I better take care of this before it gets serious. ... This is my first game back. I don't want to make it permanent that I don't get back."

Lawrie is considered day to day and remains optimistic that the injury isn't serious. To be safe, though, he's scheduled to undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning which should find out the main cause.

Toronto can only hope that Lawrie doesn't have to miss an extended period of time. His return was finally some positive news for an organization that has been without the services of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind since prior to the All-Star break.

Before the game, Lawrie talked to reporters about how excited he was to be back in the middle of a push for the postseason. Hours later, he was forced to talk about yet another injury.

"I want to take care of this and get back because ultimately all I want to do is go out there and play," Lawrie said. "My whole mentality about getting here today was trying to fly under the cover of the radar, go out there and play like I never even missed a beat.

"It's just frustrating for myself that I had to take the high road and get out of there and take care of my business as much as I didn't want to."

Lawrie originally was expected to require at least a week of rehab games in the Minor Leagues. In the end, he appeared in three games for Dunedin before getting pulled from the lineup Monday afternoon so he could make the trip to Toronto.

The 24-year-old went 4-for-10 in his three games for Dunedin. He also had a double, scored three times, walked twice and struck out twice. Under normal circumstances, Lawrie likely would have continued his rehab at Double-A or Triple-A, but with Toronto at a crucial point in its schedule, Lawrie was needed now.

If there's any talk about Lawrie returning too early from the injury, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons attempted to put an end to it right away. He was quick to point out that even though Lawrie was on the DL for approximately six weeks it was with an injury that allowed him to continue working out.

"If we was on the DL for an injury to his body it might be a little different, but it was his finger," Gibbons said. "He has been running around for six weeks now. I'd be very surprised if that had anything to do with it. Plus, he's what? 24? 25? He's not Raul Ibanez out there. He keeps in great shape."

In some positive news, Lind is nearing a return to the Blue Jays' lineup. He is expected to go on a rehab assignment within the next couple of days, which means he could be back at some point this weekend vs. Detroit or Monday in Seattle.

Encarnacion will take longer than that. He is scheduled to resume running in the near future but still needs to see a lot of progress in his strained right quad muscle before receiving clearance for a rehab assignment.

"Lindy will start a rehab in the next couple of days, and Eddie, it's still hard to say," Gibbons said. "I think in the next couple of days he'll start running again, he's hitting, but how long? I don't know."

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.