Lawrie ready for new beginning in Oakland

Not trying to fill Donaldson's shoes, third baseman aims to stay healthy, show what he can do

Lawrie ready for new beginning in Oakland

OAKLAND -- The comparisons will linger for some time, and Josh Donaldson will likely trump Brett Lawrie in most talking points, at least through the offseason. But these two third basemen, who swapped uniforms -- and countries -- in a blockbuster trade between the A's and Blue Jays last week, do share a commonality.

They're similar in style, both hard-nosed gamers who aren't afraid to get dirty. Lawrie prides himself on this, and is otherwise uninterested in entertaining any questions about how he's going to replace the A's best player.

Up until Friday's trade, that was Donaldson, shipped north of the border for Lawrie and three other players in a surprising move that may be just the first of many dominoes to fall in Oakland this winter.

"I can't look at it like that," Lawrie said Monday on a conference call. "I have to look at it as a new situation for myself and I need to go out there and be me. I can't fill someone else's shoes, and I'm sure that's not what's expected of me. I'm expected to go out and be Brett Lawrie, and that's what I'm going to go out and do.

"I'm going to go be me and go about my daily business and play the way I play. I feel, if I can go do that and stay on the field, I am going to be a definite positive and help to this team, and I feel I have a lot to contribute."

Staying on the field has been no easy task for this British Columbia native, though. He offered glimpses of superstar potential upon making his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 2011, following his trade from Milwaukee for Shaun Marcum, but he's yet to play more than 125 games in a season.

Lawrie appeared in just 70 games in 2014 because of more injuries, including a third oblique strain in as many seasons, and he batted .247 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. He also got hit by a pitch and broke his finger, reflecting a hint of bad luck along the way.

Removing himself from Rogers Centre's artificial turf, Lawrie believes, will go a long way in helping him remain healthy.

"I feel like it's a big thing," he said. "Every time I would go on the road and come back, those first couple of games coming back -- especially those day games with no turnaround time -- your body is just so thrown off. ... It just treats my body kind of silly and throws it off. I just want to be out there and be healthy, and I'm excited to do that. I think the turf thing is a big step forward for me."

Though injuries and poor luck have perhaps derailed this former first-rounder's rise, Lawrie is hopeful for a turnaround in Oakland at the hot corner. He has experience at second base, but his natural position is third, and that's where the A's envision him staying long term.

Their fans, meanwhile, will grieve over the departure of Donaldson, but they also might see surprising power numbers from Lawrie, so long as he can stay healthy. Still just 24, the tattooed infielder presents a heap of upside offensively and is already considered a prime defender. He's already "excited to go cover some foul territory," he said.

"For myself, it's about saying healthy and getting a substantial amount of playing time in a row and having consecutive at-bats and allowing myself to go through a full season and see what I can contribute," Lawrie said. "I've ran into some trouble here and there, some things I can't control, and that's part of the game and how it goes, and I've come to grips about it. The beautiful thing is those things are in the past and I'm moving forward, and it's a fresh chapter.

"I'm excited to be in a new clubhouse and excited to be around a whole bunch of new guys, some veteran guys. This is a team that likes to win, and I haven't really been on that side of the coin, and I look forward to that, and I know I have a lot to contribute to the team. I'm going to go in and work real hard like I always have, keep my head up and go about my business and show somebody that I do belong there and that they did make a good decision, because I ultimately feel like they did. I'm a big piece of this puzzle, I feel like, and I will contribute, and I will help this ballclub at the end of the day."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.