TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie made his return to the Blue Jays lineup on Friday night after taking the All-Star break to rest a sore lower back.
Lawrie was scratched from Toronto's final game prior to the All-Star Break because of back spasms but showed up for the club's workout day on Thursday without any lingering pain or tightness.
"When he came out of the game [on July 7], it was iced, obviously, and needed the extra day on Sunday to let some of those spasms subside," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We'll certainly monitor it, but in the workout [Thursday] he was fine and ready to go."
Lawrie has become one of the Blue Jays' more consistent performers since taking over the leadoff spot in early June. The second-year third baseman is batting .305 with four homers, 10 doubles and an .848 OPS at the top of the order.
The native of Langley, British Columbia, has been just as effective during the first at-bat of each game. He has led off 14 of those 31 games with a single and has provided the spark Farrell was looking for out of the leadoff position.
"He has done a very good job of setting the tone," Farrell said. "Projecting not only his personal image with his first at-bat but I think he gives us a different look from across the field and just the impression we give when we take the field.
"Having that energy and that aggressiveness to start the game, I think our own players feed off it as well."
Morrow throws successful bullpen session
TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon for the first time since straining his left oblique muscle in June.
Morrow got through his work on the mound without experiencing any pain. He is expected to throw a total three bullpens before being allowed to face live hitters.
"Good 'pen today -- he felt good about it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Didn't feel any signs of the oblique strain during the session. Provided tomorrow checks out as he finished today, he would throw another 'pen on Monday."
Morrow hasn't pitched since departing his start on June 11 against the Nationals after just nine pitches. At the time of the injury Morrow was the club's most valuable pitcher, posting a 7-4 mark with a 3.01 ERA in 13 starts.
Despite having been on the disabled list for more than a month, Morrow still leads the American League with three shutouts. He has 67 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings this season.
The latest update comes as welcome news to the Blue Jays, but Morrow is still not close to a return. Farrell estimated that Morrow would need at least three rehab starts before re-joining the big league club, and even that step appears to be a couple of weeks away.
"He's still a little ways away, this isn't going to happen in the next 10 days," Farrell said. "We have some steps we have to go through, particularly with a starter, and we'll make sure -- as valuable as he is -- we can't skip any steps in this."
Loup gets call to replace injured Perez
TORONTO -- Left-hander Aaron Loup became the latest in a long line of pitchers to be called up by the Blue Jays when he arrived at Rogers Centre on Friday afternoon.
Loup was officially promoted on Thursday, following a strong first half of the season with Double-A New Hampshire. He headed north to fill the spot of reliable Luis Perez, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list with an injured left elbow that likely will require Tommy John surgery.
The 24-year-old Loup was keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays' recent injury woes and had a feeling his time in the big leagues might be coming in the near future.
"Kind of surprised, but kind of not surprised because unfortunately Luis went down, so I just kind of thought I might have had a slight chance," said Loup, who posted a 2.78 ERA in 37 games for New Hampshire.
"Then, they called me in yesterday right when I got back from the [Double-A] All-Star Game and told me I was coming up. A little, yeah shocked, excited, but overall ready to go."
Loup is set to become the 26th different pitcher the Blue Jays have used this season. He has been in Toronto's Minor League system since being taken in the ninth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
The native of Louisiana has spent a couple of years tinkering with the angle of his arm slot when releasing the ball, but believes he has now found what will make him effective.
"When I got drafted, I was kind of a mid-three quarters and then they raised me up and that didn't go so well," Loup said. "Then they just dropped me back down and ever since then, that's where it has been.
"I'm probably more sidearm now, lower three-quarters sidearm, whereas before I was probably mid-to-high three quarters, so a little bit lower than I was."
Toronto manager John Farrell said he felt the lower arm slot has added more of a sweeping action to his breaking ball against left-handed hitters. That has the Blue Jays projecting him as a situational lefty to use in the middle innings.