8/6/2013 10:07 P.M. ET
Blue Jays turning things around on defence
By Josh Liebeskind / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- It's not a large sample size, but the Blue Jays have played much better defensively the past couple games.
The biggest play, perhaps, came when Brett Lawrie made a diving stop at third to initiate an inning-ending double play early in Monday's contest at Seattle to save a run. It hasn't just been the eye-openers, though, it's also been the routine plays that have been executed.
"I don't know if that's something that's contagious, it's just about making plays or not making them," manager John Gibbons said.
The outfielders took extra practice before Tuesday's game against the Mariners, working on throws into bases. Gibbons said he liked what he saw, but it's something that should always be there.
"You're going to have some games where you make mistakes, but defensively, that's something you can do all the time," he said. "Hitting, it kind of comes and goes, your timing is thrown off, you face a good pitcher. Defense -- there will be some mistakes -- should be there all the time."
Happ feels good, ready to go on Wednesday
SEATTLE -- If there are any lingering doubts about Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ returning to the mound, they aren't coming from him.
Happ is scheduled to start Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners, in what will be his first appearance since a line drive struck him in the head on May 7. The result of the play was a skull fracture and a sprained right knee, sustained when he fell to the ground. The left-hander was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on Monday, but didn't join the team in Seattle until Tuesday.
"I am happy about the way I feel now and I am happy to finally be here after all that because ... rehab's never fun, this kind of stuff wasn't fun," Happ said.
Happ said the sprain has been more of an issue than the skull fracture and he believes he would have been back sooner if it weren't for the knee. It took about three weeks for the fluid in his head to be reabsorbed and he could have pitched much sooner if it weren't for the sprain, Happ said.
The 30-year-old admitted that he initially thought his recovery time would only take a couple weeks, but then that time frame kept expanding. When he was finally able to pitch in a live setting, though, he was more relieved than nervous.
"I was happy just to get out there and compete again and throw to hitters with no screen in front of me, no turtle [backstop] behind them, just real competition," Happ said. "It was great. It's been great since then."
Happ went 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA in five rehab starts in the Minor Leagues, including three with Triple-A Buffalo. He allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings during his last appearance with Buffalo.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said he hopes to get about five or six innings from Happ on Wednesday.
Lawrie happy with his approach at plate recently
SEATTLE -- Brett Lawrie's season has been frustrating, as the Blue Jays' third baseman hasn't been able to get going offensively. Part of the struggles come from missing a number of games due to injuries.
But Lawrie is quickly starting to turn it around, and he entered Tuesday's game against the Mariners with an eight-game hitting streak. During the streak, Lawrie has hit .414 (12-for-29) with a pair of home runs and a 1.192 OPS.
"It's important to get games under your belt, consistency," Lawrie said. "Just keep playing and playing and playing and getting more opportunities. The more opportunities you get, things are going to happen.
"Fortunately for myself, I'm in a good spot. [I'm] talking to some of the guys on the team just about hitting and just going up there with a mindset and a good approach and sticking to that approach. Getting my work in every day and just continuing to try to get better at this game, because you learn something new each day."
Manager John Gibbons has noticed quite a few changes when Lawrie's at the plate.
"He's fouling off some tough pitches, where earlier he was swinging and missing and he was out," Gibbons said. "He's using the whole field now. That's big. Unless you're just a guy that hits a ton of home runs ... you got to take hits the other way."
• Casey Janssen recorded his 20th save of the season on Monday and is the first Toronto pitcher to accomplish that feat in back-to-back seasons since Billy Koch did it from 1999-2001. Janssen's 51 saves is seventh on the all-time club list, one behind Mike Timlin.
• Mark DeRosa's pinch-hit single on Monday gave the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. The veteran is hitting .357 (5-for-14) as a pinch-hitter this season.
Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.