Lawrie's energy infectious within Blue Jays
Rookie's grand slam celebration Wednesday shows upbeat style
TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie came to the big leagues with the reputation of being a high-energy player, and the Blue Jays are now finding that out firsthand.
Lawrie became the center of attention during Wednesday night's 8-4 victory over the A's. He hit a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth inning, then proceeded to go into a memorable celebration.
The 21-year-old let out a scream and pumped his fist into the air while rounding first base. That continued in the dugout as he bumped fists with teammates and let out a few more screams as he tossed his helmet aside.
"He's a personality that fits in well with this group," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "We've got a bit of a different mix, but one that's got a lot of upbeat, a lot of energy to it, and when you have those kind of abilities to go along with the energy, I think that resonates with every guy in this uniform."
Lawrie added a line-drive double off the wall in left field during the eighth inning. He scored on a single by Rajai Davis and appeared to do another fist pump as he crossed home plate to give his club an 8-3 lead.
Oakland reliever Jordan Norberto used his next pitch to hit shortstop Yunel Escobar in the back. Escobar took offense to the incident and took several steps towards the mound. Both benches emptied, but a physical altercation was avoided and nobody was ejected.
Norberto said after the game that his pitch wasn't intentional. Farrell appeared to have his doubts, and didn't exactly deny that the situation could have had something to do with Lawrie's antics.
"It made me wonder, just because of the way the guy threw the ball leading up to Yunel's at-bat and what his track record shows," Farrell said. "He's not the most erratic guy in the world. I can't sit here today and say it was intentional, but whether or not it was because of somebody hitting a grand slam at a key point in the game, I don't know if that was their motive."
Farrell added he likes the type of energy that Lawrie brings to the clubhouse. He said it's a similar mentality that playoff-caliber teams have because of the overriding expectation to win.
If opposing clubs take offense to that intensity, then Farrell said it's up to the Blue Jays to protect their rookie third baseman.
"Time will tell, and if that draws response from across the field, well, then it's our responsibility to respond accordingly," Farrell said. "He's one of us, and we have to protect one another."
Litsch's move to bullpen working out well
TORONTO -- Jesse Litsch appears to have found a home in the Blue Jays' bullpen.
The 26-year-old made the transition from the starting rotation after being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on July 28. He has allowed just two runs in 7 2/3 innings as a reliever this season, which garnered some praise from manager John Farrell.
"Each time out of the bullpen, he has thrown the ball without hesitation," Farrell said. "[He's been an effective] reliever, regardless of whether it's in the fifth inning or closing out a game last night."
Litsch came into Wednesday night's 8-4 win over Oakland with one out in the seventh inning. He proceeded to retire eight of the 10 batters he faced en route to the first save of his career.
Farrell said he was impressed with how Litsch kept an even keel throughout the entire outing -- even when he came back out to pitch the final inning.
"We just felt like, [he] threw 12 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, we tack on another run, just let him finish it out, and he did a good job," Farrell said.
"He went out and pitched to the hitters in the ninth as he did the five previous. There was no added emphasis which, ideally, if you're defining a pitcher, if you can separate from that emotional side of it, is good."
Litsch is 4-3 with a 4.33 ERA in 12 games this season.
Versatile Encarnacion shags flies in left field
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are attempting to increase Edwin Encarnacion's versatility by having the 28-year-old take fly balls in left field.
There is no immediate plan to give Encarnacion a start in the outfield, but he practiced there for the first time on Wednesday afternoon.
"This is about making the most of the remaining two months that we have," said Toronto manager John Farrell. "We're ever evaluating players. Edwin has done an outstanding job at the plate, he's in a run right now at the plate that I think everyone's been accustomed to from what he did a year ago.
"Not only is he producing offensively, but he's working deep counts, he's taking his walks when needed."
Toronto has a $3.5 million club option on Encarnacion for the 2012 season. If the Blue Jays decide to exercise that extra year, then Encarnacion's work in the outfield could potentially pay dividends while the club takes part in Interleague Play.
"When we go into National League parks, the versatility of a guy that has predominantly been a DH shows up so much more," Farrell said. "The fact that he could go to third base when we were in St. Louis had a lot to do with us sweeping that series.
"So to be limited by a DH that doesn't have a position or takes another guy out of the lineup, we're trying to keep that flexibility going forward."
Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 10 games Thursday with an RBI infield single in the fourth inning. Since July 7, he leads the Major Leagues with an on-base percentage of .478, and over the same span, he leads the American League in OPS (1.097), is tied for second in doubles (11) and ranks third in batting average (.381).
Utilityman Mark Teahan has become the forgotten man on the Blue Jays roster since coming over in a trade from the White Sox on July 27.
Teahan has appeared in just three games and has received a total of two at-bats. The lack of playing time hasn't been lost on John Farrell, but the Blue Jays manager said Teahan has handled everything like a professional.
"To his credit, he understands his role and he understands the situation he has come into after the trade," Farrell said. "That's about him being a professional. We have had some conversations on not only his role, but his status and those that are here, and he fully understands. That's appreciated."