He runs with the ferocity of a runaway locomotive engine and the only speed he brings to the game of baseball is flat out.
And now it’s over for Brett Lawrie, almost as quickly as it started – at least for what’s left of this season.
The 21-year-old Langley, B.C., native and starting third baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays took a ball off the middle finger of his right throwing hand while fielding grounders during batting practice before their game Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Lawrie left the field and X-rays later confirmed he had broken a finger.
The Blue Jays placed Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list, a mere formality at this stage of the regular season, which will come to an end for Toronto on Wednesday in Chicago.
The next sighting Blue Jays fans will get of Lawrie will be in February when spring training begins for the 2012 major-league baseball season.
Rarely has an athlete, and a rookie to boot, captured the imagination of a city as fast as Lawrie did upon his arrival in Toronto in early August.
His popularity was evident late last month during an autograph session at the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto where hundreds of fans lined up for hours for a chance to meet the Blue Jays favourite.
Acquired in a trade last December from the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum, Lawrie tore it up playing for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Lawrie batted .353 with 18 home runs in just 69 games for the 51s.
And with Blue Jays a middling .500 team struggling to regain its once flourishing fan base, the homegrown Canadian represented a golden opportunity to stir up additional interest.
The wheels were in motion for Lawrie to be called up in early June, but fate intervened then, too.
He was struck by a pitch on his left hand during a minor league at-bat in late May, breaking a bone, which sidelined him for over a month.
He finally made his major-league debut on Aug. 5 in Baltimore and it didn’t take long for the Lawrie express to start rolling.
He collected two hits in his first game and then stroked his first home run in his third. Two games later in Oakland, Lawrie connected for his first grand slam.
On Sept. 5 against the Boston Red Sox, Lawrie hit his first walk-off home run that buried Boston 1-0 in the 11th inning.
Now it’s over, at least for this year, after just 43 games in which Lawrie still left his mark, leading all rookies in the majors over that time in triples (four), slugging percentage (.580), total bases (86), and on-base plus slugging (.961).
His total of nine home runs since his debut tied him for first. “He played well in his time up here,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.
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