51s’ Lawrie grateful to avoid bad break

On the cusp of being called up by the Toronto Blue Jays, 51s third baseman Brett Lawrie saw his promising career flash before his eyes this week.

On Tuesday night, a 90 mph-plus fastball hit flush on the top of his left hand against Tucson at Cashman Field.

"Since it’s in the hand, there are a lot of bones and a lot of things that can go wrong in that department. It kind of scared me a little bit just knowing that," said the 21-year-old Lawrie, Toronto’s No. 2 prospect. "I was thinking it’s close to my time coming up here to go to the big leagues.

"Your dreams are in front of your eyes, and in a split second they can be gone."

Only a few hours after Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous said Lawrie was "close" to earning his first promotion to the majors, the right-handed-hitting Canadian was headed to a hospital for X-rays, which were negative.

"I was just praying for a bruise and nothing to be wrong," Lawrie said.

While there are no broken bones, Lawrie’s hand remained swollen Thursday, when he sat out his second straight game in Las Vegas’ 4-1 home victory over Tucson.

"It’s tough to swallow, but at the same time, I’m also very thankful. It could’ve been a lot worse than it is," he said. "My bone’s bruised and there is some swelling, but it looks 10 times better than it did before.

"It’s going to feel better every day."

Lawrie, a 2008 first-round draft pick, underwent treatment on his hand at the ballpark for close to 10 hours each of the past two days and also iced it at home to try to speed the healing process.

But Las Vegas manager Marty Brown said the team won’t rush Lawrie back into action.

"He’s going to be day to day, and it’s not going to be any time quick, for the simple reason we want to make sure he’s not going to re-injure anything when he comes back," Brown said.

Not surprisingly, the hard-nosed Lawrie doesn’t expect to be out for long and plans to quickly resume his quest to reach the big leagues.

"I knew I was close — I just didn’t know when — and I’m still close," he said. "I don’t figure this to be a long process. I’m just going to try to get better as quick as I can and try to get back in the lineup."

Acquired from the Brewers in a December trade for pitcher Shaun Marcum, Lawrie, has put up impressive numbers in his first Triple-A season. He’s among the Pacific Coast League leaders in virtually every offensive category, batting .354 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, 51 runs and 11 steals in 52 games.

His on-base percentage is .415, and his slugging percentage is .677.

Lawrie, a former second baseman, has also made major strides in his transition to third base, where he made five errors in his first 10 games but only seven in his last 42.

"I feel a lot more comfortable over there every day," Lawrie said. "I feel like I’m ready to play at the next level."

Brown said if it were up to him, Lawrie would already be in the majors.

"I’ve already told him he’s ready a long time ago," he said.

■ NOTE — 51s pitcher Josh Roenicke was waived by Toronto and claimed by Colorado.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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