DETROIT -- Brett Lawrie is one step closer to making his return after the third baseman made his first appearance in an extended Spring Training game on Thursday afternoon.
Lawrie played four innings at third and went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and a walk. It was an encouraging sign for the 23-year-old, who hadn't appeared in a game for more than a month because of a strained left oblique muscle.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said earlier this week that Lawrie would need at least 20 at-bats in the Minors before making a return. One pitcher in attendance might not agree with the timeline, but Lawrie would appear to still be a week away from returning.
"[Lawrie] looked real good at the plate today," Blue Jays prospect Marcus Stroman wrote on Twitter. "He's most definitely ready to rock."
Lawrie suffered the injury playing in an exhibition game for Team Canada prior to the World Baseball Classic. He likely needs more at-bats than normal in the Minors because of his extended absence, and in some ways he has to start the spring from scratch.
The native of Langley, British Columbia, hit .273 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 125 games last year.
Gibbons unfazed by Izturis, Bonifacio defense
DETROIT -- The Blue Jays insist they aren't running out of patience with the defensive woes currently plaguing infielders Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio.
Both infielders have experienced more than their fair share of difficulties through the first eight games of the season. They combined to record six errors -- four for Bonifacio, two for Izturis -- entering Thursday's game in Detroit. But beyond the obvious miscues, there also have been a lot of makeable plays that simply aren't being converted.
The situation is far from ideal but with Brett Lawrie currently on the 15-day disabled list, the Blue Jays will have to continue to mix and match in the infield until his return later this month.
"They're working on it, and there are two guys that are moving around different situations, different positions," said third base coach Luis Rivera, who is in charge of infield defense. "During their career they've played different positions and they're getting used to playing one position all of the time. I think they're fine, they both have good hands, [they're] good defenders and I have no worry about those guys."
Izturis and Bonifacio were expected to compete for the starting job at second base during Spring Training, but that changed in late March when it was revealed Lawrie wouldn't be ready for the start of the season because of a strained left oblique muscle.
That forced Izturis to make the transition to third. It should have been a relatively easy move considering he's played there more than any other position in his career, but the results have been mixed so far.
The same could be said for Bonifacio at second base. He's made a couple of highlight reel plays this season, but he's also struggled with some routine grounders and throws to first. The overall tools are there, which has led some to suggest Bonifacio's struggles are more mental than anything else.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons quickly denied that on Thursday, but he did opt to give Bonifacio a day off on Thursday. Izturis shifted to second and Mark DeRosa got the start at third.
"He's just had a couple of games where it has been a tough go," Gibbons said of Bonifacio. "I don't know him well enough, and I'm not in his head, but he has showed no signs that it has really affected him because he's getting after it out there.
"He's playing the game hard and I don't think he has that personality where you can really get him down. We'll give him a day off and then put DeRosa out there and Izzy over at second. I'm not worried about his mental side."
Davis gets rare start against righty
DETROIT -- Rajai Davis received a rare start against a right-handed pitcher in Thursday afternoon's game against the Tigers.
Davis is being used almost exclusively against left-handers this season, but he got the call in right field with Doug Fister on the mound for Detroit, batting sixth.
The move was made in part because of Davis' past success against Fister, while also giving Jose Bautista an opportunity to start at designated hitter to avoid aggravating a right ankle injury in the wet conditions at Comerica Park.
"That's one of the reasons, plus Rajai has hit this guy pretty good," manager John Gibbons said. "It kind of solves two things there. It's a little sloppy out there and we can protect [Bautista] a little bit, too."
Davis entered Thursday's game with a career .423 average (11-for-26) with a pair of doubles against Fister. The move immediately paid off, although not quite the way Toronto was expecting.
The 32-year-old Davis was hit by a pitch during the second inning. He promptly stole second base and eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Mark DeRosa. He also singled in the fourth.
Davis entered the game hitting only .259 versus righties compared to .289 against lefties. That's one of the main reasons he has been used in a platoon role with left-handed-hitter Adam Lind.