Blue Jays: The sad story of Brett Lawrie

Former Blue Jay Brett Lawrie made an appearance on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 on Wednesday, and gave an update on where his career is at these days after nearly a year of silence. It’s an interesting, and somewhat sad tale that will hopefully have a better ending.

Currently living in Arizona, Brett Lawrie is still working at getting back to playing professional baseball. However if you were to enter his name into a google search looking for an update on what he’s been up to, you’d never know that he still intends to continue his career. I know I’ve done just that the last six months and I’ve come up empty looking for updates on his injury status, or anything related to professional baseball.

However, that’s changed over the last week for the former Toronto Blue Jay, first with a “gender reveal” video that popped up on his twitter feed and caught the eye of many baseball fans, and then an interview on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 on Wednesday evening with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price.

The interview was the best chance we’ve had in quite some time to get an update on what’s been going on with the former first round pick, and the conversation was a little odd to say the least. Lawrie has always been a high energy character, and that definitely hasn’t changed since we last heard from him in baseball circles. In this case though, it felt like the Canadian ballplayer had a few things he wanted to get off his chest.

He described the last year as an endless search for a “great mind”, as he frequently refers to it, and someone that will listen and understand what’s going on with his body. He compared his body to a “link of chain” that’s been twisted, and had a difficult time explaining exactly what the problem was. The thing is, Lawrie also openly admitted that he’s had the same problem relaying this information to doctors of all kinds in his endless search for an answer.

“I’ve had a lot of guys sometimes, even just look at me in the face after I explain what I’m feeling and just tell me like ‘I don’t know what that means’, and I’m like ‘man, I’m just trying to’…” – Brett Lawrie

He talks about that endless search for a “great mind”, and describes a scenario where he gives these professionals roughly a month to show some kind of progress, or else he’s on to the next method of treatment, and/or practioner for his unique scenario.

“……..if you haven’t been able to make me go forward even a little bit, then I need to go and find somebody else and that’s what’s happened, that I’ve had to venture out and go and find people that you know, obviously everyone claims that they’re the best, that they’re the best at what they do. And I’ve given each individual an opportunity and unfortunately I haven’t found one, but right now I am working with a guy…”

He mentions working with a Dr. Connor Ryan, who has experience working with the Phoenix Coyotes, and expresses genuine optimism that he’s on the right track. However, he also readily admitted that he wasn’t in a position to play last season, or even at the current moment. When asked if he would have been capable of playing last year, he said, “the body would have imploded”, and then launched into the explanation that compared the body to a link of chain.

It got particularly interesting when he was asked how the injury and the pain is manifesting in his body. Lawrie painted a picture that it wasn’t so much about pain, but rather the “feeling” that his body isn’t right, and the fear of injury that comes with playing through that type of scenario.

“… it’s not so much everywhere, I’m just, I’m so in tune with my body and what I have going on, and how I’m supposed to, how I’m supposed to work properly right, how I’m suppose to work. So when I go into activity, I’m not feeling the activity to be explosive and to feel powerful in the areas that I need to feel powerful and explosive, and I’m feeling compensation in areas that shouldn’t be making me feel powerful. I can go outside and fool you and do a number of different things, but there’s only one guy that I can’t fool and that’s me, and that’s what’s happened.”

He also mentioned some frustration with how he was handled by a training staff in one of his explanations, and the hosts then directly asked him if he placed blame on the Chicago White Sox for the situation he currently finds himself in. His answer was interesting to say the least.

“It’s frustrating, all of a sudden I’m out there doing my thing, and to have something so stupid, because of uh, because of a training staff to try to make me make me move better in my body? But if you know the body and you know what it’s about, then you wouldn’t have done what you did to me, and we would have just been a lot better off, but unfortunately, you know, we went the opposite way and here we go, but I’m feeling a lot better at where we’re going it’s just taken a little bit of time just because of the, you know, the minds that I’ve had to go through in order to get, to get to where I need to be”

He frequently mentions “orthotics” as the root source of what knocked him off course, and paints a picture where he feels they were negligently used on him in some capacity, presumably while he was in Chicago with the White Sox. He only played one season there and appeared in just 94 games in 2016, after playing in a career high 149 in Oakland the year before. For what it’s worth, he doesn’t completely blame them or anyone in particular, and took some ownership for where things are at as well.

“I’m not blaming anybody because I’m the guy who put them in my shoes, but I will tell you that I don’t think the right minds were behind this……… I didn’t make myself like this”

However when he starts talking about the situation a little more, you can hear the characteristic fire in Lawrie’s words, and you can almost picture the intensity with which he is making each statement.

One of the final questions was whether he believed he would play Major League Baseball again, and he emphatically said that he will get back to where he once was. However, he also included a few other interesting points in his answer as well.

“100% man, I wouldn’t be going through this every single day, just to try and, just to go through, just to get by. I’m hungry man, and I’m…. If I would have been let go because I’m a bad baseball player, then maybe I would have gone, you know, thought about things differently. But I didn’t get released because I’m a bad baseball player, I got released because I had an injury that, that staff had no clue how to fix and they were tired of, basically tired of dealing with it because it was just lingering and nobody knew how to fix it. So if it wasn’t going to fix itself and they weren’t going to, then unfortunately we had to go different ways… ”

Sekeres and Price wrapped up the interview by congratulating the 28 year old on the recent announcement that he’s going to be a father, which was a happy note for the whole thing to end on, especially after a little over 10 minutes of trying to keep up with the fast paced Canuck.

For what it’s worth, I genuinely hope Lawrie can get over whatever it is he’s dealing with and get back on the baseball diamond. Maybe he never reached his full potential as a first round pick, but as a versatile defender with a career .261/.315./.419 slash line, the talent should be there for him to get back to the big leagues, and “back to where I belong” as he put it. However, the body and the mind are powerful things, so it remains to be seen if he can get over the hump and garner interest from a big league team again before his big league story is over.

Here’s hoping you can do just that, Mr. Lawrie. I’m rooting for ya.