Lawrie drops appeal of four-game suspension
Third baseman: 'I just think that it's easiest to put this behind me'
TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie has dropped his appeal of a four-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his dispute with home-plate umpire Bill Miller.
Lawrie, who received the suspension on Wednesday, originally stated that he would appeal in an effort to tell his side of the story. That changed the following day, and his suspension officially began on Thursday night against the Yankees.
"I just think that it's easiest to put this behind me," Lawrie told a group of reporters on Thursday afternoon. "I feel like this is an opportunity for me to end it. Plus, getting it reduced, it was a coin flip. We didn't know if they were going to reduce the games or what not. I think it's just easy enough to suck this one up and take these four games and move on."
The disciplinary action taken by MLB was in response to Lawrie tossing his helmet in the direction of Miller after disputing a called third strike during Tuesday night's game against the Rays.
The incident occurred with the Blue Jays trailing by one in the bottom of the ninth and one out. Lawrie got ahead in the count, 3-1, against Rays closer Fernando Rodney and was seemingly one pitch away from reaching base as the tying run.
Rodney proceeded to strike out Lawrie on a pair of pitches that appeared to miss the strike zone. Lawrie immediately confronted Miller and, while doing so, spiked his helmet into the ground. The helmet bounced up and hit Miller on his right hip.
"Everyone was on the same page, and collectively it seemed like the right thing to do for the organization," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of Lawrie's decision on Thursday. "Just go ahead and drop the appeal, start serving the suspension tonight and have it put behind us to move forward and have the focus and the attention be on the ballclub."
Lawrie felt the matter was settled when he visited Miller in the umpires' room prior to Wednesday night's game against New York. It was an opportunity for Lawrie to apologize in person and reiterate that he never intended for the helmet to make contact with the umpire.
"I just walked in there and said, 'I apologize, I never meant to hit you, I would never do that," said Lawrie, who is hitting .281 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 38 games this season. "'I've never done that before, hit anybody with anything.' That's all I said to him, I said my apologies, let's go out there and have a good one tonight.
"I think he accepted my apology. If he has watched it or has not watched it, then he should and realize that the intention was not to hit him, and I think he does realize that now."
Lawrie will be eligible to return on Monday in Tampa Bay. During his absence, the bulk of the playing time at third base is expected to go to Yan Gomes, who was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon.
Gomes came up through the Blue Jays' system as a catcher but also has experience at first and third. His skill set at the hot corner is still a work in progress, but the organization feels he has made a lot of improvements in that area since the start of Spring Training.
"I played a lot of it in college, so it has kind of been getting used to it again," said Gomes, who made his Major League debut on Thursday. "If you haven't done something in a long time you feel awkward out there, but it has been getting a lot better.