03/30/2013 2:37 PM ET
Lawrie's absence alters infield defense
By Mike Radano / Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- When the Blue Jays announced third baseman Brett Lawrie would start the season on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his rib cage, the prevailing thought was that infield defense would struggle. That said, Mark DeRosa is a capable backup, and Jose Reyes, Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio give manager John Gibbons plenty of options.
"We struggled early, up the middle," Gibbons said of his infield defense. "We made quite a few errors early in camp, but it's better now. Bonifacio has settled in. I feel good about it now. A lot of it had to be get in games and settle in. You know, you can play Izturis anywhere. Reyes is set for short, and DeRosa over at third. I think he has a lot left in the tank."
But don't think for a second the manager wants Lawrie to return any later than the fifth game of the season, when he is eligible to return to the roster.
"There's no doubt once we get Lawrie back, we're better," Gibbons said. "He has so much range and is so athletic over there."
Gibbons returns with same approach from first stint
PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will return to Rogers Centre on Tuesday and resume the position he held from 2004-08. Gibbons had multiple public run-ins with players in his first stint with Toronto, which begs the question whether he's made changes to his approach with this new-look Blue Jays team.
"The one thing I've always tried to do is be fair with them all," Gibbons said. "The thing is, with these jobs, things change, and you have to do what's best for the team. Especially in a year like this, where we're not just trying to develop guys, we know what this year is about."
It's not a stretch to say the Blue Jays enter this year with higher expectations than any season since their last playoff appearance in 1993, when they beat the Phillies -- their opponent this weekend in a two-game On Deck Series at Citizens Bank Park -- for the World Series title. With several additions, including National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, the Blue Jays enter the year as one of the favorites to represent the American League in the World Series. That's a something Gibbons didn't experience the last time around.
"I never intentionally [ruffled feathers]," said Gibbons, who went 305-305 in his first stint as Blue Jays skipper. "I don't think I've changed that much. Not consciously have I done anything differently."
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.