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Ailing Lawrie to skip Classic

Rib injury forces Jays star to sidelines

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brett Lawrie has been forced off Canada's roster with a rib strain one day before the team's first game at the World Baseball Classic.

The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman, who felt discomfort in his left side during an exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, said he was disappointed but felt it was more important to keep healthy with the major-league season quickly approaching.

"It's tough for me but it's tough on everybody," said Lawrie during a team workout at Chase Field on Thursday.

"This is a situation that doesn't come around a whole lot, and just to have it kind of taken away just from something so small like this is frustrating for me just because I've worked so hard this off-season and this whole spring training to get myself ready for this."

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team expected Lawrie to be out two to three weeks "on the conservative side" and he could be ready for opening day. A right oblique injury cost Lawrie two months with Toronto last season.

"I asked him about last year and he said what he had last year was 10 times worse than this," Anthopoulos said from Baltimore's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., where the Blue Jays were facing the Orioles in exhibition play. "But he knows obviously there was something there and he was smart to take himself out. He felt something going to his left on a ground ball and felt something on a swing but he was smart enough having been through it to not take any chances.

"He'll be back on Monday, he'll get some more exams, but he said it has improved today. It's just one of those things that you need to rest. It's very mild, which is certainly good news, and they're saying two to three weeks on the really conservative side, which means there's obviously a chance that it's sooner than that."

The Langley, B.C., native said he made the mistake of trying to play injured last year and that he had learned from the experience. Playing a handful of games for Canada, Lawrie said, wasn't worth risking his major-league season.

"It needs time to heal," he said. "This is not something that can be healed overnight nor the next day. Only time will tell. So as of right now I'm still part of Team Canada but I don't think I will be competing in the first round, probably nor the next.

"Now it's all about getting myself ready for the beginning of the season. Paying my dues to my club and trying to get myself back to square one and trying to get myself healthy and that's the number one goal right now."

The loss of Lawrie is poor timing for Canada, which begins opening-round play against Italy on Friday.

Manager Ernie Whitt said there probably isn't time to find a replacement before the game.

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Taylor Green will likely move to third base, while first baseman Jimmy Van Ostrand could also see some time in the position.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2013 C8

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