With nine players suiting up for the World Baseball Classic, it would be reasonable to imagine Alex Anthopoulos watching the ESPN or MLB Network ticker at all times to make sure his guys stay healthy. And once could only imagine how many people Anthopoulos turned to Wednesday evening and said, “I told you so.”
Anthopoulos’s worries came to fruiton on Wednesday when third baseman Brett Lawrie, playing for Team Canada at the WBC, was removed from an exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds after feeling discomfort in his right rib cage. The injury was later diagnosed as a strained oblique muscle and will keep Lawrie out of the World Baseball Classic and sidelined for the next two to three weeks.
In an interview with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, Anthopoulos felt the injury was minor in nature and that Lawrie would be available to return before the start of the regular season.
“Hopefully it’s two weeks, but right now, based on that, you expect he’ll be ready for opening day,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s been through it. He said what he had last year was 10 times worse than this.
Anthopoulos was referring to the oblique injury that lingered with Lawrie during the 2012 season and cost the 23-year-old nearly two months of playing time last season. Lawrie hit just .273 in his sophomore season with 11 home runs, 48 RBI, and a .729 OPS in a season that was disappointment for the third baseman and fans alike.
Ironically, the injury and withdrawal from the WBC comes just days after the boisterous Blue Jay publicly called out Pirates catcher Russell Martin for withdrawing from Team Canada over what became a power play by Martin, a career catcher, threatening not to play for the team unless he could be the team’s shortstop. Both Team Canada and Martin’s MLB squad, the Pittsburgh Pirates, declined his request to play the position in the tournament. Obviously, Lawrie’s reason for withdrawing is a bit more understandable, but timing is everything.
Lawrie was hitting .267 with a home run and 4 RBI in 17 plate appearances this spring before leaving for the World Baseball Classic. Now, he and the Blue Jays hope that he can get back on the field and put together a strong campaign in a revamped line-up.
“Now it’s all about getting myself ready for the beginning of the season, paying my dues to my club and trying to get myself back to square one and trying to get myself healthy. That’s the No. 1 goal right now,”