DUNEDIN, Florida - Brett Lawrie won't be with the Blue Jays when they break camp on Saturday after a two-game set in Philadelphia.
Lawrie, the 23-year-old native of Langley, B.C., is struggling through the rehabilitation of the strained ribcage muscle he suffered days before the World Baseball Classic.
"I do everything I possibly can with treatment and I can only do so much treatment and ride the bike so many times and stretch," said Lawrie. "It's going to be better when it wants to and I just have to give it the opportunity to (get healthy.")
Lawrie is eligible to come off the disabled list in time to play the April 6 game against Boston, which appears hopeful at this point. He won't call what he's experiencing "pain," just that the left side of his ribcage doesn't feel right.
"I know that right now it doesn't feel like my other side and that to me is a problem," said Lawrie. "Not that it hurts me or bothers me, it just doesn't feel like my other side and that's a problem and if I can't have it like my other side I'm not going to go out there and go as hard as I go if I know my body can't withhold that."
Lawrie had been hitting off a tee and taking groundballs but will dial back baseball activities in the short-term. Rest and treatment are the only tonics for a strained ribcage and the immediate concern is ensuring he doesn't suffer a setback that would keep him on the shelf for an extended period.
"Sure, you could go out there and suck it up for a few games but what happens when I have to go back to the manager and say, 'Yeah, it's sore a little bit again' and then I have to go through this whole process again," said Lawrie. "I'd rather get two birds with one stone here, stay here, kind of just get this thing back to where it needs to be and then hopefully get back with my guys and get it going."
Manager John Gibbons, who said last week veteran Mark DeRosa would play third base on opening day in Lawrie's absence, suggested he will platoon the position until Lawrie returns. Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio are candidates to share third base duties with DeRosa.
Lawrie will remain in Dunedin, continuing his rehab, when the team heads north.
The Blue Jays may carry eight relievers to start the season. That would mean Casey Janssen is healthy and each of Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup and Jeremy Jeffress would make the team.
CATCHING SITUATION SETTLED
J.P. Arencibia will play on opening day, after all, and Henry Blanco will be his backup. The 41-year-old beat out Josh Thole for the second catcher's job. Thole's been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
Following his impressive spring, manager John Gibbons is comfortable having Arencibia catch knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
"We decided after watching J.P. catch (Dickey) in the WBC, he did such a nice job, that they'll both catch him," said Gibbons. "To be honest with you I thought J.P. may have a hard time with him never catching a knuckleball but he's done a nice job, all the reports we saw."
"You grow up watching opening days, excited about opening days and then I've been able to be a part of two of them," said Arencibia. "There's no other feeling than that morning to know that baseball starts again. At the beginning when it was in jeopardy it was one of those humbling things but, again, it's not about me it's about the team and fortunately enough they feel I've done a good enough job to be able to work with (Dickey.")
Edwin Encarnacion (right index finger) hit off a tee on Monday and expects to participate in batting practice on Tuesday. He hopes to be ready for opening day but says it's important he get in to Grapefruit League action before the club heads north.
"I need to take some (at-bats) before I go (in to) the season," said Encarnacion. "But I feel good, I feel ready to go. I played every game, nine innings, at the World Baseball Classic so I'm ready to go."
Encarnacion was injured when, in his final at-bat of the World Baseball Classic, he hit a ball off the end of his bat and jammed his finger.
OTHER ROSTER MOVES
Along with Josh Thole, the Blue Jays optioned OF Anthony Gose and RHP Brad Lincoln to Buffalo; RHP David Bush has been assigned to minor league camp; C Mike Nickeas will remain with the club through to the end of spring training but will not make the team.
JOSH JOHNSON DOMINANT AGAIN
Johnson, 29, pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless ball in the Blue Jays' 13-4 win over the Phillies on Monday. He scattered four singles and a walk while striking out eight.
"(My) fastball location's been there pretty much the entire time," said Johnson of his efficient spring. "So as long as you can do that, you can start working on the other stuff and hone that in, set everything up and get things going for the season."
Johnson's spring ERA lowered to 1.13 (two earned runs in 16 innings.) He will start the Blue Jays' final spring training game on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The Blue Jays play their final spring training home game on Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Pirates come to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium for a 1:05 ET start.