ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Lawrie made his return to the Blue Jays lineup
on Monday night following a four-game suspension for his dispute with
home-plate umpire Bill Miller.
Lawrie, who initially appealed the four-game ban, had been out of
action since last appearing in Wednesday's game against the Yankees. He
was forced to watch his team last week from a suite, which was easier
said than done for the energetic second-year third baseman.
"It was annoying," said Lawrie, who entered play on Monday hitting .281
with three homers and 17 RBIs. "It's a different perspective on the
game, and I didn't like it that much. I want to be playing this game
until I die. That's what this experience has meant to me. I'm happy to
Lawrie received the suspension after arguing a pair of strikes and then
slamming his helmet into the ground in the vicinity of Miller. Lawrie
maintained all along that he never had any intention of hitting the
umpire with his helmet and just because there was inadvertent contact
doesn't mean he's going to alter his aggressive approach on the field.
"It hasn't changed me at all," Lawrie said. "I'm still the same player.
I'm still going to have the same fire. In the heat of the battle, I'm
still going to be the same guy. I'm not any different. At the same
time, the only thing I have to learn is not to throw a helmet toward an
umpire. That's what I learned."
Lawrie's return to the lineup meant utility man Yan Gomes has been
relegated to the bench for at least one game. That could change in the
coming days as manager John Farrell looks to find ways to get the
rookie into his lineup.
Gomes made his debut on Thursday and proceeded to go 4-for-10 with a
homer and three RBIs in four games. He has the ability to play behind
the plate, at first and third base, which could make him a valuable
contributor off the bench -- especially during Interleague Play.
"The versatility is going to come into play for sure," Farrell said.
"We feel like he's capable of going over to first base if the need be
and his versatility allows us on a night like tonight to DH J.P.
[Arencibia] with no hesitation because if something unforeseen were to
happen to Jeff [Mathis] we would insert Yan immediately.
"He's going to get his at-bats by moving through those three, possibly
four positions including the DH."