TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie is out of the lineup again, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays to continue their quest for a playoff spot without their starting third baseman.
After just coming back from a six-week absence with a broken finger, Lawrie will now be out until at least September, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday after placing him on the 15-day disabled list. This injury is on the same side but is not the same one that caused the 24-year-old to miss time last season, though that doesn't mean he'll be back any time soon.
"With obliques you can't really do anything," Anthopoulos said. "You have to completely shut down and just allow it to heal until you get started up again. It's going to be a while."
Lawrie has only played in 70 of the Blue Jays' 116 games through Thursday night's season finale against the Baltimore Orioles, and his return Tuesday was limited to three innings because he felt something wrong with his oblique during batting practice. With Anthopoulos conceding that he could be out up to six weeks, the Blue Jays go back to Plan B.
For the time being, that means Danny Valencia, acquired late last month from the Kansas City Royals, will be at third base. Manager John Gibbons said Valencia will split time there with Juan Francisco once Adam Lind (fractured right foot) and Edwin Encarnacion (right quadriceps) return from their respective injuries.
Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays will not only miss Lawrie's defence but his right-handed bat in the lineup. But he didn't express any regret about not shoring up the position a the trade deadline because of his confidence in the rest of the offence once Lind and Encarnacion are healthy.
"I still think there's enough depth in this lineup, there's enough depth in the offence that we can sustain one guy being down," Anthopoulos said. "Hopefully there's no setbacks at all for Lind and Encarnacion. If we end up getting two of those three, I still think those are two big bats."
The banged-up Blue Jays got a scare in the first inning Thursday night when designated hitter Melky Cabrera was plunked just above the right elbow by a Miguel Gonzalez fastball. Cabrera was removed from the game in the third for what the team called precautionary reasons.
X-rays on Cabrera's elbow were negative and he's considered day-to-day, the team announced.
Lawrie, who has 12 home runs, 38 RBI and OPS of .722 this season, wasn't as fortunate. Staying healthy has been his biggest question during his time in Toronto.
This is the Langley, B.C., native's sixth stint on the DL in three-plus major league seasons. In addition to the oblique and finger problems, Lawrie has been knocked out by left ankle and ribcage injuries.
Anthopoulos said the broken right index finger, caused when Lawrie got hit by a pitch, and the ankle injury, which happened when he slid into a base, were "freak things." The oblique problems over the past few years, though, might stem from Lawrie's body type.
"He's wound tight, there's not a whole lot, if any, fat on him," Anthopoulos said, wondering if that made him more susceptible to muscle issues. "It might just be that he's prone to some of those things and we need to try to do some things to get him stretched out or avoid some of those pulls."
Lawrie insisted in conversations with the team that he didn't feel any pain during his rehab from the finger injury, according to Anthopoulos, who also absolved the Rogers Centre turf of the blame in this situation. Anthopoulos said the 2013 injury from the World Baseball Classic happened when Lawrie dived for a ball after working entirely on grass.
"The tough one on this one is we don't know what the cause was," Anthopoulos said. "We can't say that Brett's injury is a product of (at-bats) or reps because every time it's happened the circumstances have been totally different."
No matter the cause, the Blue Jays have no choice but to move on without Lawrie. In the long-term, that might mean having more insurance at third base given how much he has gotten hurt.
"At some point you start having a large enough sample size and body of work, you have to try to build in that depth and try to protect yourself if you know that the likelihood is someone's going to miss two weeks or three weeks," Anthopoulos said. "We'll definitely take a look at it, but you're always going to try to build in for depth, especially if a guy's continued to miss games."
Right now, with sights set on the American League East title or at least a spot in the wild-card game, the Blue Jays hope to get a boost from the returns of Lind and Encarnacion. Lind could be back in the lineup as early as Monday at the Seattle Mariners and Encarnacion not long after that, assuming no setbacks, Anthopolous said.
After Thursday's game, the Blue Jays activated infielder Steve Tolleson from the paternity list and optioned reliever Rob Rasmussen back to triple-A Buffalo.
In another roster move, the club signed catcher George Kottaras to a minor-league contract. The Markham, Ont., native will report to Buffalo.