Lawrie prepping for shift over to second base
Blue Jays infielder getting acclimated for change in rehab assignment
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays appear to have reversed course and are now seriously considering transitioning Brett Lawrie to second base on a full-time basis.
Lawrie has been playing at second during his current rehab assignment in Triple-A Buffalo and when he's ready to return to the Major Leagues it likely will be at his new position.
A move from third base to second had been ruled out by the organization earlier in the year, but the Blue Jays' line of thinking has changed and it appears the major shakeup is imminent.
"We're looking future wise," manager John Gibbons said. "He's an above average third baseman, but kind of the way we're looking, if you look at his physical abilities, he has a chance to be a great second baseman. You look at the range factor and things like that, it might be a nice combo with him and Jose [Reyes] up the middle for a few years."
Lawrie has spent his entire Major League career at third, but he was drafted by Milwaukee as a catcher and came up through the Brewers' Minor League system as a second baseman. He transitioned to third following an offseason deal at the 2010 Winter Meetings and has since become one of the better defenders in the Majors at his position.
The move won't necessarily have much of an impact on the Blue Jays' current 25-man roster. The club has struggled to get consistent production this season from second base, but that issue will now simply move across the diamond to third where Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa are expected to share time.
Edwin Encarnacion also could receive an occasional start at third, but Gibbons completely ruled out having Bautista play there and it's something the veteran slugger has expressed disapproval about in the past.
What the move would do, though, is increase general manager Alex Anthopoulos' options prior to the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline and during the offseason. It's generally easier to find a third baseman with above average offensive abilities than it is at second.
But the one thing Gibbons wants to avoid is moving Lawrie back and forth between second and third. When a final decision gets made it's something Gibbons wants to stick to so that Lawrie can settle into and find a permanent home.
"I don't want to get into where you bounce him back and forth," Gibbons said. "I think, at this stage, he has too much upside for that. He's a really good third baseman, he could add a ton of range up there at second base. Combine him with Reyes up the middle."
Lawrie, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left ankle, appeared in his second rehab game for Buffalo on Wednesday night. He is not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
Blue Jays flip Dickey, Buehrle in their rotation
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays made a minor change to their starting rotation by moving R.A. Dickey up one day and giving left-hander Mark Buehrle an additional day of rest.
Dickey will now take the mound in Thursday's series finale against the Indians instead of starting a series opener vs. Baltimore on Friday.
The move was made mostly because Dickey has already faced the Orioles three times this season and the Blue Jays would like to avoid increasing that total prior to the All-Star break.
"We looked at it, this would be like the fourth time Dickey has faced Baltimore in the first half and Buehrle hasn't," manager John Gibbons said. "So we just switched that around."
Dickey hasn't enjoyed a lot of success against the Orioles this season. He has allowed 16 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings of work while taking a pair of losses and one no-decision.
The 38-year-old Dickey said part of the decision also had to do with keeping the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner on normal rest. The Blue Jays had an off-day on Monday and now that Dickey is feeling better on the mound after previously suffering through an upper-back and neck injury, he wanted to settle into a normal routine.
As a result, Buehrle will be making his start in Baltimore on six days' rest. He is 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 18 starts.
Kerr selected as Blue Jays' rep for Heroes
CLEVELAND -- Nicholas Kerr of the Canadian Army has been named the Blue Jays' representative in the Tribute for Heroes campaign at the upcoming All-Star Game in New York.
Kerr is a Medal of Bravery nominee for saving a civilian's life after a car accident. He's a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and has won several Canadian Forces National Sports Awards.
After Afghanistan, the artillery chose the decorated infantryman -- a first -- to join Avalanche Control Operation Palaci (AVCON). His howitzer training was put to use supporting Parks Canada's Rogers Pass, BC, program.
The Tribute for Heroes campaign is a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and which builds upon both organizations' commitment to honoring heroes in the United States and Canada.
All of the winners, each representing one of the 30 MLB clubs, will be included in All-Star Week festivities and will be honored during the pregame ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, Tuesday, on Sportsnet beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Along with MLB and People, a guest panel including General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. "Jack" Keane (retired), alongside MLB players Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians, Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Boston Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals assisted in the selection process for the 90 finalists, who were then voted on by fans to select the 30 winners.