May 23, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie (13) gets a broken bat single in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated Baltimore 12-6. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is Brett Lawrie's Fire Fueling Him Or Holding Him Back?

In the matter of a four game series, Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie experienced a microcosm of his entire season. He went 5 for 14 with a home run, three RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base, showing a bit of a rebound offensively. However, he wrapped that around an ejection on Friday and a verbal exchange with a teammate and his coaches on Sunday.

The latter could become a wake-up call for the fiery youngster.

During Sunday’s epic rally by the Blue Jays, it all came to a head. With no outs in the bottom of the ninth, Toronto down by two runs, and Adam Lind at third base, Lawrie lined a fly ball to right fielder Nick Markakis which he felt was deep enough to score Lind. When third base coach Luis Rivera held Lind rather than test of the arm of Markakis, Lawrie took umbrage with the decision. He purposefully walked back to the dugout slowly, glaring at Lind and Rivera at third, and throwing some choice words in their direction.

When he finally reached the dugout, he continued to run his mouth in the direction of third base, causing manager John Gibbons to finally start yelling back at Lawrie with a heavy finger pointed to the third baseman. The exchange would continue for a few minutes until Jose Bautista took Lawrie to the other end of the dugout and provided some veteran advice; shut your mouth.

You can appreciate a player wanting his team to score every run they can in a close game, but he also has to know the situation and the players involved. Lind is not the most fleet of foot and Markakis has 79 career assists from the outfield over 8 seasons, including 4 this season.

The ejection on Friday night was a similar issue. After a tough called third strike, Lawrie walked away shedding his helmet and batting gloves on his way out to the field. When it appeared he was flicking those batting gloves back towards home plate, he was given the rest of the night off for showing up the umpire. While the actions may or may not have justified the ejection, it was perhaps a product of his reputation preceding him.

Lawrie’s fire has already become his calling card. He hustles on every play, he takes every result, good or bad, to heart, and he expects nothing less from himself than the best. This fire has endeared him to the fans and granted the 23-year-old a celebrity status not normally presented to a 23-year-old player with little results to show for it.

Unfortunately, this fire is also making Lawrie a liability to the team.

You can tell Lawrie’s pressing, with every swing and every out, Lawrie is hulking out, on the edge of blowing up in some manner or another. Only a better end result will free him from the tortures he puts himself through, but until he learns to get past the failures, those better results will continue to elude him.

Lawrie and Gibbons need to sit down and use this weekend’s series with Baltimore as a learning experience. They need to look at the improvements at the plate Lawrie made against Baltimore and use those as encouragement to build upon. They also need to examine what went wrong on Sunday and Friday and find a way to get Lawrie’s head in the right place, putting the petulant child behind him while still tapping into the bellows that keep him going.

Until that happens, Lawrie will continue to sit on the cusp of tapping into that potential we’ve been hearing about for years.

It’ll just continue to get further and further out of reach.

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  • Pio Pusli

    too much fire or just a knucklehead player? both i believe. until his batting average is within the .300 then i can forgive him, but right now, too much bluster, but nothing to show.

  • David Dunn

    Boorish behaviour with umpires hurts your teammates…but boorish attitude with your own teammates and coaches is reminisced of one Shea Hildebrand. John Gibbons handled this well. What now? Sit him.

  • adam dubler

    It’s one thing if it was 60/40 to send or send Lind but to act like Lawrie did when it would be sheer stupidity to try a risky tag up to get one run home when you need three shows how much Lawrie has his head shoved up his own posterior. What a lunk head. How about this Brett stop flexing screaming and acting like you’re better than everyone else and just play good baseball… And try to let your playing speak instead of your apparently idiotic brain.

  • Michael Wray

    With nobody out and down two it was a no-brainer to hold Lind at third. It seemed like he wanted the RBI more than the win but I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Whether it’s stupid or greedy, doesn’t really matter. The kid has boatloads of talent but his development is troubling. He’s only 23 so we can still hope that the maturity will come with time but with the way he plays someone might need to teach him to throttle down a bit if he wants to make it to 30 playing in the bigs.

    • McQ50

      It looked like Bau bau was coming to talk to him anyways before Gibbons laid into him which is exactly what needed to be done. Good for gibby to lay into him he needs to start maturing or like was said above he will never reach his potential. Chalk this up as a learnig experience and hopefully he can learn for the next time but all was good after Kawasaki saved the day gotta love that. Plus nice to see we can win a game without the long ball go jays go

  • badendon

    Dear Brett: I believe you were always a difference maker in the outcome of games you played in while getting to the majors. Whether that was ever true it`s not anymore. Now you are part of a team of difference makers so relax get refocused and let the game come to you. You are extremely talented but in the words of Yogi Berra baseball is 90 % mental and the rest is all in your head !
    Take a deep breath and enjoy the skill sets of your teammates and have fun playing the game. Your fire is wonderful but if not channeled it is counterproductive. I`ll be watching you and looking for signs that you understand what I`m talking about like smiling laughing and supporting others.