Top prospect Brett Lawrie begins his rehab assignment

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Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie, who was on the verge of taking over as Toronto’s third baseman before suffering a fractured hand May 31, will begin a rehab assignment at Single-A Dunedin tonight.

Lawrie hit .354/.415/.677 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 52 games for Triple-A Las Vegas before going down, and the common belief was that he was only a couple of days away from getting promoted to the majors.

Unfortunately, Lawrie’s six-week absence has seen circumstances change in a big way.  The Jays were trying to get by with Jayson Nix, Edwin Encarnacion and John McDonald at third base before Lawrie got hurt.  Now they’ve reinstalled Jose Bautista at his old position, and they have youngsters Travis Snider and Eric Thames playing well in the outfield corners at the moment.

Depending on how he comes back, Lawrie may have to wait until September for his promotion now.  He could force his way onto the major league roster if he immeditely resumes hitting like he did during the first two months, but the Blue Jays are content with their corner situation as is.  They might even decided to stick Lawrie in an outfield corner, given that he’s struggled so far with the adjustment to third base.  Bautista, though he prefers to play the outfield, is the better defender of the two.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.