Lawrie knocks in game winner for A`s

* Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC) has played every game with the Oakland A`s this season -- when manager Bob Melvin gave him a day off. Lawrie is hitting .255 after Monday`s opener in Houston when he knocked in the winning run in a 2-1 victory. ...


By Bob Elliott

HOUSTON _ The only difference 40 games into his new career is the color of his t-shirt.

Brett Lawrie’s tattoos are the same.

He still talks at 98 mph.

He has just walked into the hallway from the weight room inside the visiting clubhouse at Minute Maid Park Monday night.

The only difference between Brett Lawrie, new Oakland A’s third baseman, at the 1/4 pole of the 2015 season and a year ago is that he now wears a green shirt.

“It’s been awesome here, to see how another organization works, we have it all here, we’ve had a ton of one-run losses, we haven’t had that hammer punch out yet, but it’s been a pleasure playing here even though we are scuffling a little, we’re not going to let that bug us,” said Lawrie, when asked how he was enjoying his new club.

Jays fans were over the moon for the Langley, B.C. native from the time he arrived in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2010 winter meetings in Orlando.

Last year the Jays sold game-worn jerseys from Jose Bautista for $1,500. Munenori Kawasaki and Lawrie’s went for $1,000 a pop.

“I’ve been traded before, I’m not angry with Alex (Anthopoulos) or anyone,” said Lawrie shipped west with right-handers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin, plus shortstop Franklin Barreto for third baseman Josh Donaldson.

You thought the Blue Jays -- four games under .500 after Monday afternoon’s 10-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- were struggling? 

The A’s, bumped their record in one-run games to 2-13 (14-26 record ... worst mark in the majors) when they ruined Lance McCullers Houston Astros in his major-league debut on Monday. Lawrie drove in the winning run in the sixth inning is hitting .255 with two homers, 14 RBIs and a .640 OPS. He’s made six errors.

“It doesn’t matter what our record is, this is a good bunch, the talent is here, we need to find that hammer punch to win some games,” Lawrie said. 

Lawrie says he doesn’t follow the Blue Jays on a daily basis, but he did know that the Jays were swept by the Astros this weekend.

The big concern the Jays had about Lawrie was not a lack of respect of Lawrie’s abilities, but they worried if he could stay healthy enough and long enough, to contribute. He arrived Aug. 5, 2011, and of the next 538 games the Jays played he made 311 starts (57.8%).

“He’s fit in well,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, “he plays as hard as anyone in the league and brings energy to the clubhouse and the lineup.

“He doesn’t care where he hits in the lineup. He’s been healthy ... he’s had one day off of the first 40 games.”

Lawrie did text spring training house mate and ex-Jays teammate Adam Lind the other day to see how life was “with the new manager.” Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was fired after 25 games with Craig Counsell taking over. Adjusting to new managers is nothing knew to Lind who played for John Gibbons 1.0, Cito Gaston 2.0, John Farrell and Gibbons 2.0 during his Jays days.

Lawrie said he has not yet noticed the extra strain of travelling from the west coast players often complain about. 

The A’s have already had their two longest trips: an 11-game trip (Arlington, Tex., Minneapolis and Seattle) (and a 10-gamer to Houston, Kansas City and Anahiem) off the books, so they have 15 home dates in August and 14 in September.

“Fans in Oakland are loud, loud, loud, especially in right field,” said Lawrie. “They treat us well. There is a good energy in the park.”

Seven years ago this week Lawrie boarded a plane bound for the Dominican Republic with the Canadian Junior National Team. In his second last day he hit five home runs -- two to left, two to right and on to straightaway centre -- in a doubleheader off 90 mph fastballs each pitch. Brewers scout Tom McNamara was there and scouting director Jack Zduriencik selected Lawrie 16th over-all in North America, giving him a $1.7 million US signing bonus. 

Now, Zduriencik is the GM of the Seattle Mariners and McNamara the scouting director. Last June they gave North York’s Gareth Morgan a $2 million bonus.

This year’s trip to the Dominican leaves Wednesday with Mississauga’s Josh Naylor, Calgary’s Mike Soroka and outfielder Demi Orimoloye all ranked in the top 100 picks (which equates to going in the first three rounds June 8-10.

What advice does Lawrie have for the two sluggers and right-hander Soroka?

“Don’t worry about who is in the stands, don’t worry about the draft, just worry about playing for Canada ... go and play for your team,” said Lawrie. “I look back so fondly on those days. They were so exciting. We’re all Canadians.

“Then, you get drafted and you find yourself in a bad hotel with $20 a day meal money. Pro ball is a grind. They should all enjoy where they are at because pro ball is the ultimate grind.”

So, who won the Jays-A’s trade of third basemen?

“When the baseball numbers stack at the end of the year we’ll see,” said Lawrie. 

Jays get
Name .Avg. HR RBIs OPS

Josh Donaldson .316 8 26 .920

A’s get
Name .Avg. HR RBIs OPS

Brett Lawrie .255 2 15 .627
Franklin Barreto Stockton-A .21 1 12 .560    
                    GS W-L ERA
Kendall Graveman A’s 4 1-2 8.27
     Nashville-AAA 4 2-1 1.85
Sean Nolin, Nashville 3 0-0 0.00