Brett Lawrie was traded to the Oakland Athletics along with three others in one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the offseason. The trade sent the A’s best player, star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lawrie has expressed his excitement to play in Oakland, especially on the grass. The grass? At the Rogers Center in Toronto the Blue Jays play on artificial turf, which Lawrie attributes to his numerous injuries.
Many have asked if Lawrie can stay healthy in Oakland because if he can he’ll be an asset to Oakland and assuming the three other young prospects (two of which are supposed to be Major League ready) mature into assets for the club then GM Billy Beane‘s highly criticized trade of the team’s best player could be worth it.
Lowrie has yet to play in more than 125 games in a season in his four years in the big leagues. He made his MLB debut with Toronto in 2011 after being traded from the Milwaukee Brewers for Shaun Marcum. He showed a lot of potential but just hasn’t been able to stay on the playing field.
He played in just 70 games in 2014 due to his third oblique strain of this career and then a broken finger which he sustained being hit by a pitch.
Not that Lawrie hasn’t been able to play on real grass and dirt, he has on road trips (with the exception of playing the Tampa Bay Rays who also play on artificial turf. However, he’s played half of all the games of his career in Toronto and that IS a lot of time on the turf.
“I feel like it’s a big thing,” he said. “Every time I would go on the road and come back, those first couple of games coming back — especially those day games with no turnaround time — your body is just so thrown off. … It just treats my body kind of silly and throws it off. I just want to be out there and be healthy, and I’m excited to do that. I think the turf thing is a big step forward for me.”
If Lawrie’s theory is correct then Oakland may be in luck. Lawrie has been called a Donaldson-like third baseman. Lawrie prides himself on his intensity and hustle, for being a hard nosed player without a fear of getting dirty, much like Donaldson.
If you have seen Donaldson’s two “tarp catches” you’d understand what this entails.
Lawrie could be right. Making those types of plays on turf is likely harder on the body than if made on grass. The only way for anyone to know if this is true or just a hopeful thought of Lawrie’s is to wait and see.
If Lawrie gets a fourth oblique strain then Oakland may have a problem. If not, then they’ll have a younger version of Donaldson playing at their hot corner.