Lawrie displays his defensive talents vs. KC
Blue Jays third baseman's fine play on Friday night one for 'highlight reel'
TORONTO -- During Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Royals, Brett Lawrie continued to show that he's one of the best defensive third basemen in the league.
On a high chopper off the bat of designated hitter Billy Butler, Lawrie leaped up to barehand the ball and threw a strike to first while in the air to get Butler by a step.
It was just another of a series of fine plays that the young Canadian has had over the last few weeks as Lawrie continues to cement himself as one of the best at the hot corner.
"He's so quick. He has great feet, he's very athletic," manager John Gibbons said. "He's got the arm to throw from any angle, off-balance, things like that. He has tremendous range. That's one area where the intensity really benefits him."
Friday's play was just one of what Gibbons referred to as a "highlight show" that Lawrie's been putting on since returning from the disabled list just before the All-Star break.
While Lawrie's bat has also come around, hitting .318 since the Midsummer Classic, it's also been part of a process that has seen the typically overly energetic 23-year-old calm down some.
At times, Lawrie's rambunctious energy seemed to inhibit him on both sides of the diamond, however, since returning from an ankle sprain on July 13 there's been a noticeable difference in how he expends his energy that's benefited him in all aspects of the game.
"I've seen his whole game be knocked down a notch," Gibbons said. "He's got that fast twitch that helps him too, on those quick plays where he's got to dive and you got to get up and make a play that benefits him. A lot of guys can't do that. A lot of guys can get to those balls, they dive and everything, but they can't get up and make that throw. He's got the arm and that quickness to get off his feet."
Rookie Goins looking to win second-base job
TORONTO -- Ryan Goins is quickly making an impression.
The 25-year-old is batting .400 with seven runs scored and a pair of RBIs to begin his big league career. With a first-inning single against Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie in Saturday's 4-2 victory, Goins matched Jesse Barfield's club-record eight-game hitting streak to begin their careers.
While Goins' offense has been a nice addition that hasn't been seen from a Blue Jays second baseman this season, the biggest difference the rookie has made is with his solid defensive play, including a pair of tough ones in Friday's 3-2 victory.
At a position that has been largely void of defensive prowess this season, Goins has really opened the eyes of manager John Gibbons.
"You have to play some defense, no doubt," Gibbons said. "We've been bitten a few times this year where we don't make some plays defensively and it kind of brings back to light that a big part of this game is defense. Taking away hits, turning tough double plays, like ending the game last night on a nice defensive play."
"It's big, especially when you get in those tight ballgames. We've played a lot of one-run, two-run games this year where that big defensive play makes a difference between winning and losing."
With shortstop Jose Reyes having trouble moving to his left due to injury, defense, even the simple plays, have made the Toronto skipper reevaluate what he values in the field.
Now with Goins showing tremendous range and a strong arm at second he's making people take notice. Second base is a question mark for 2014 and the club wants to see what it has in the Round Rock, Texas native.
"He's auditioning, so run with it kid," Gibbons said. "See what you can do. We don't know what's going to happen next year, but if he comes out and shows us he's maybe the guy then may win that job. You never know."
While it's too early to speculate on the future, third baseman Brett Lawrie is among those that are enamored with how Goins has handled himself early in his big league career.
"I think Ryan's going to be a big part of the [future]," Lawrie said. "He's shown well so far. He plays the game hard, plays it the right way, does the little things. And that's the biggest thing is just doing the little things; getting guys over when he needs to, putting together good ABs, making the routine play, making a good one here and there, and turning the double play. He's impressed me so far."
Delabar, McGowan will join expanded roster
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays haven't fully decided on which players will join the team when the rosters expand to 40 on Sunday, but there will be a pair of familiar faces.
Both Steve Delabar and Dustin McGowan will rejoin Toronto after successfully completing their rehab stints on Friday.
The pair of relievers entered a Florida State League game with Dunedin, and had no setbacks.
McGowan came on in the sixth and pitched a scoreless frame while striking out a batter. Delabar followed in the seventh with his own clean inning, as both picked up a hold.
Delabar last pitched in the Majors on Aug. 2 and McGowan on July 29, but both are ready to resume their roles as the Blue Jays two right-handed setup men.
The Blue Jays will also call up a third catcher, but are waiting for news on A.J. Jimenez's most recent elbow injury before making a move.
"We don't know how bad it is. A nerve flared up on him," manger John Gibbons said. "He has a history of arm problems, so he's got to see how bad that is. Hopefully it's just a day or two and he can come up here and do his thing."
Jimenez hit .287 with four home runs and 38 RBIs in 67 games over three levels of the Blue Jays' farm system, ending up at Triple-A Buffalo this season.
If Jimenez is unable to join the Blue Jays it will likely be his Buffalo backup Mike Nickeas who would take his place.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.