Here is a link to my Thursday column about Brett Lawrie. The full text runs below:
MESA, Ariz. — Brett Lawrie talks really really fast. He is a verbal fastball.
And he runs his words together justlikethis. You’re standing there with him on a Wednesday morning at the Oakland A’s new clubhouse in their new stadium and he’s sitting on a chair facing his locker and you’re learning about him because this is the A’s first full-squad workout and people want to write about Lawrie because he is the new third baseman, the guy taking over for Josh Donaldson, All Star Josh Donaldson now with the Toronto Blue Jays because Donaldson and Lawrie got traded for each other.
And Lawrie is jiggling his right leg. Pumping it. Vibrating that leg. Go, leg, go.
Reader, you’ve done the same leg thing. Admit it. You remember taking that algebra test, your leg was jumping up and down. Or you got called to the principal’s office for killing that frog you stole from biology lab and your leg was jumping to beat the band. It didn’t even feel like your leg. It was another being entirely. It had a jump of its own.
And Lawrie is talkingsofast and using run-on sentences and leg pounding, leg hammering, and he says, “I’m pretty easygoing, man.”
Easygoing? The man with the vibrating leg?
And God love him, he admits, “I mean my leg’s doing that.” He stares at the leg pumping the clubhouse floor. Everyone stares at the leg. “It’s an athlete thing,” he says.
“Off the field, I’m just relaxed and just easygoing. I like flipping balls into my pool, just hitting golf balls, just taking it easy, man.”
Who gets the balls out?
“Myself,” he says. He calls himself myself. “Well, actually, depending on what day it is, if my pool guy’s around, I notice like 350 golf balls all scooped up freshly for myself. I’m pretty easygoing, man.”
Three-hundred-fifty golf balls in the pool? Try swimming in Lawrie’s pool. Try stepping on the bottom. You could become a pool roller.
Textual note: Lawrie pronounces Lawrie “Laurie,” and not “Lowrie” as in Jed Lowrie, now with Houston.
Lawrie shows his tattoos. When he’s not hitting golf balls into his pool he’s getting tattoos. The man is illustrated. Left arm. Right arm. Blue ink up and down and all around. The left arm is dedicated to his sister Nicole who died before he was born. It is a shrine.
Lawrie is a nice man with deep feeling. He doesn’t like discussing his sister. He is an open person but has his limits. Has respect. On his arm you can read words like “emotion” and “never surrender.” His arms record serious life events and life messages. He almost literally wears his life on his sleeve.
He once did a kind thing. Amazing, really. After he got traded to Oakland, he saw an online video of 6-year-old Amelia, a Canadian who rooted for him. She is crying her eyes out because Lawrie got traded. She says he’ll never come back to the Blue Jays. “I’m positive they (the A’s) won’t trade him back,” she weeps. “That guy is going to be too good.”
Lawrie saw the video. It tore him up. He took Amelia out for pizza. Come on, that’s special. He mended her broken heart. It’s the kind of guy he is. Now Amelia roots for the Blue Jays and the A’s. Life is all about compromise.
The conversation at his locker gets around to Donaldson. It had to. Donaldson was a fan favorite in Oakland. Donaldson had better numbers than Lawrie and played more games the past two seasons — Lawrie had injuries, some related to the artificial turf in Toronto, hard on the body.
“I’m just going out there to play baseball,” Lawrie says. “I’m just going to do what Brett Lawrie does.”
He refers to himself as Brett Lawrie. Someone should stop him.
“Go play some good third base and try and knock the guys in when I get the opportunity,” Brett Lawrie says about Brett Lawrie. “Obviously you can’t do that every time so there’s no point in pressing. This is the first day of spring training. We’ve got a long way to go from here. It’s a long haul. Spring training is about getting our feet under us. Getting together as a group and, ultimately, getting a feel for the game again. It’s good to be back again and be under the same roof again.”
Lawrie looks up at the ceiling.
“It’s a new roof,” he says, “new clubhouse, new everything.”
New team, if you want to get picky.
Now, he’s talking about being Canadian. “Canada was very good to myself,” he says. “I’m Canadian myself with a Canadian passport. All the fans said I was a hockey player trapped in a baseball player’s body. It’s how I go about my business, my intenseness. It’s that hockey-player mentality.”
Note to the reader: Lawrie has all his teeth because, get this, he never played hockey. He may be the only Canadian who didn’t play hockey. He would be a hockey player trapped in a baseball player’s body if he had played hockey, which he didn’t.
Even though he’s under the same roof as the other A’s he still doesn’t know much about them. “I saw ‘Moneyball’ and whatnot,” he says. “I really wasn’t looking into (the A’s). I mean this thing came from left field. I mean I looked at my cell phone and, next thing I knew, I was on the phone with the GM and I was with the Oakland A’s. It’s going to take a little bit for these things to settle in.”
Later, Bob Melvin is talking about Lawrie. Melvin is a slow talker. Melvin does not run sentences together. Melvin is being serious. “I don’t know that you’ll find too many better athletes in baseball,” he says. “He’s fast, he’s a good defender and he’s got power. You look at some of the reports and forecasts for him early in his career to be one of the premier players. Injuries have been a setback. I know he’s looking forward to putting up the numbers he thinks he’s capable of and we think he’s capable of.”
So far so good. No traps. No dangerous golf balls on the pool bottom.
Someone asks Melvin about Lawrie, the man. Melvin pauses. Gathers himself.
“I talked to him on the phone when we made the trade,” Melvin says, “and I got off the phone going, ‘Wow.’ And then I talked to him in person and it was a little one-sided.”
Melvin didn’t mention the jiggling leg.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.