5/2/2014 8:08 P.M. ET
Lawrie moved to second to optimize NL park lineup
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The arrival of Interleague Play has resulted in Brett Lawrie being transitioned to second base for the second consecutive year.
Lawrie made six starts at second base last season as the Blue Jays contemplated moving him to the position on a full-time basis. The experiment ultimately ended with the club deciding he was best suited for third, but the concept was revisited for Friday night's game in Pittsburgh.
With Lawrie moved across the diamond, that enabled the Blue Jays to insert Juan Francisco into the lineup at third base. Manager John Gibbons wouldn't commit to a specific timeline for the temporary move, but it's realistic to expect Toronto to keep the same lineup until the club returns home on Wednesday.
"I'm not uncomfortable about it, [but] I'm a third baseman," Lawrie said. "I don't necessarily like going across the diamond and playing second base because I'm not a second baseman, that's not what I'm here to do. I'm here to play third base but if it helps the team, then that's what I'm here to do."
The decision appears to have caught Lawrie at least somewhat off guard. He didn't take groundballs at the position until Friday afternoon and there doesn't appear to have been a lot of time to prepare. Lawrie does have an extensive history at the position, though, as he came up through Milwaukee's Minor League system as a second baseman.
There's also the fact that Lawrie is frequently on the right side of the infield when the Blue Jays implement a defensive shift vs. left-handed hitters. Lawrie typically plays in shallow right field during those scenarios, but there will be added responsibilities at second base, including turning double plays.
"It's a different mindset," Lawrie said. "The overshift, I know I'm going over there in deep right field but I know I'm going right back to third base. Today it's permanently at that position. For me, I enjoy the game when I'm not thinking.
"Second base, you're worrying about double plays, you're worrying about all these different things, I do my best when I'm not thinking at all but it's part of it, I've done it before, no excuses I'm going to go out there, play hard and see what happens."
The main reason behind Friday night's move was the Blue Jays wanted to find a way to get the most offense out of their lineup. Francisco has been a reliable contributor at designated hitter since he was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo on April 19 and entered play Friday night hitting .275 with three homers and six RBIs in 11 games.
There continues to be a concern about the production of Toronto's starting rotation and until the pitchers start to turn things around, it appears as though the Blue Jays are going to put a greater emphasis on maximizing their offense.
"We win more games when we score more runs," Gibbons said. "We've been giving up runs. A lot of it is based on what Francisco has done since he got here. We didn't know what we had, but he's hit pretty well.
"That's one bat, short-right-field wall, we think we need some production so we'll give it a try and if it doesn't work we'll move on from that. Even with the great defense, we were still below .500, it's not like we're sitting five games over. We expect we need to score."
Janssen, Lind inching closer to return from DL
PITTSBURGH -- Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A New Hampshire early next week.
Janssen threw another side session on Friday and has been given the go-ahead to take the next step. He's expected to join the Fisher Cats on Monday and will need at least four or five appearances before making his return to Toronto.
That's a longer preparation time than most pitchers would need, but it's also not entirely surprising considering Janssen made just three appearances this spring and has yet to pitch in a game during the regular season.
"He has to go back-to-back days so when he gets here, he's done that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's been off a long time."
Designated hitter Adam Lind also is nearing a return and could be activated from the disabled list on May 7. Lind has been out since April 15 with a sore lower back and considering the Blue Jays play their next five games in National League parks, there isn't a need to rush him back into the lineup.
Lind is currently working out at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., and has been slowly ramping up his daily activities to prepare for his eventual return.
"He was supposed to play in an extended game today but it got rained out," Gibbons said. "So he took his groundballs in a cage, similar to turf. He'll play again tomorrow, I'd expect him to be back at least by the middle of the week next week. That'd be my guess."
Blue Jays recall Kratz for catching depth
PITTSBURGH -- The Blue Jays recalled catcher Erik Kratz from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned Chad Jenkins to the Minor Leagues prior to Friday night's game against the Pirates.
The move gives Toronto some additional depth behind the plate with the news that catcher Dioner Navarro is day to day with a sore right quad muscle.
Navarro isn't expected to require a stint on the disabled list, and he's already scheduled to take Saturday off because it's knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's turn in the rotation.
"We think it will just be a couple of days," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He won't play tomorrow anyways because of Dickey. But we had to cover ourselves with another catcher. He's feeling better today."
The 33-year-old Kratz was hitting .273 with a home run and five RBIs in 12 games for the Bisons this season. This is Kratz's second stint with the Blue Jays this season as he entered play Friday night with two hits -- including a home run -- in 10 at-bats this year.
Jenkins became the odd-man out in the bullpen as the Blue Jays continue to put a strong emphasis on keeping their relievers without options on the roster. Jenkins made just one appearance this season and allowed three runs over 1 1/2 innings after being promoted from Triple-A Buffalo early last week.