PITTSBURGH – Brett Lawrie started at second base as the Blue Jays ventured into a National League Park for the first time this season.
Both Lawrie and his manager agree it isn't preferable. What it is: a consequence of a game played without the designated hitter.
"I'm a third baseman," said Lawrie. "I'm not a third base/second base guy. I'm a third baseman and that's my position. I'm not necessarily going over there thinking I'm going to be Chase Utley tonight. I'm just going to try to make the routine play and roll a double play if we can.
"It's for the team and if it gives us a chance to win than that's how it has to be."
"All we're trying to do is win a game," said manager John Gibbons.
Lawrie has appeared in one game, for just one inning, at second base this season. He started six games at second base last season when the Jays briefly considered a position switch. His longest tenure at second base came over two seasons in Milwaukee's farm system, when he played 231 games at the position at Single-A and Double-A.
He approached the evening as if he was playing a permanent exaggerated shift, which sees Lawrie shift over to the right side of the infield against noted left-handed pull hitters.
"I'm not uncomfortable about it," said Lawrie. "I'm a third baseman. I don't necessarily like going across the diamond and playing second base because I'm not a second baseman. I'm here to play third base but if it helps the team, that's what I'm here to do."
The position change is temporary while the Jays trudge through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and it won't be daily. Gibbons expects Lawrie to return to third base on Saturday as Francisco retreats to the bench when the Pirates go a left-hander, Francisco Liriano.
"We win more games when we score more runs," said Gibbons. "We've been giving up runs. A lot of it's based on what Francisco's done since he got here. We didn't know what we had but he's hit pretty well. It's one bat, a short right field wall and we think we need some production. We'll give it a try and if it doesn't work we'll move on from that.
"It would be no different if Adam Lind was here," said Gibbons. "You'd try to get his bat in the lineup and it'd probably be Eddie over at third, you know."
With the demotions of Ryan Goins and Jonathan Diaz in recent days, it appears the Blue Jays are veering away from the all-glove, no-bat options, willing to trade a bit of defence for improved offence.
Friday night's defensive alignment falls in line with the previous decisions.
"Even with the great defence we're still below .500 so it's not like we're sitting there, five games over and you could say ... you know what I mean," said Gibbons.
STIFF QUADRICEPS SIDELINES NAVARRO
The Blue Jays recalled catcher Erik Kratz from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned right-hander Chad Jenkins to the Bisons on Friday.
Kratz's recall was necessitated by Dioner Navarro's stiff right quadriceps muscle, which he injured late in Thursday's win at Kansas City.
"It was the first time I've ever felt anything in my quad," said Navarro. "I've had problems with my hamstrings before; nothing with my quads so it was kind of strange."
Navarro is listed as day to day. He didn't play on Friday and isn't scheduled to be in Saturday's lineup anyway with R.A. Dickey due to pitch.
"We're going to be really careful with it," said Navarro.
JANSSEN INCHING CLOSER
Casey Janssen threw another bullpen session on Friday and pronounced himself ready to go out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
He'll join Double-A New Hampshire in time for its game on Monday against Binghamton.
No return date has been set but Janssen will need multiple appearances, including on back-to-back days.
RAIN DELAYS LIND'S RETURN TO GAME ACTION
Adam Lind was supposed to play in an extended spring training game on Friday in Dunedin, Florida, but the game was rained out.
Gibbons says Lind took ground balls indoors and will be in game action on Saturday, weather permitting.
The hope is for Lind to return in the middle of next week, possibly when the Blue Jays play host to the Philadelphia Phillies.