OAKLAND, Calif. — He plays with an intense energy, but Brett Lawrie said he had no difficulty making the final play of Monday’s White Sox victory.
A converted second baseman, Lawrie was in the correct position and looked smooth as he scooped Yonder Alonso’s grounder in shallow right field and easily fired to first base for the final out of a 4-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Lawrie, who has been confident he could make the move back over from third base if he got enough quality repetitions in spring training, said he didn’t notice the roar from the sellout crowd of 35,067 at Oakland Coliseum when Alonso’s grounder got past the dive of Jose Abreu, who had ranged to his right.
“Time to slow it down, ease up and just chill,” Lawrie said.
The White Sox have to feel pretty relaxed about how Lawrie, who played second base in the minor leagues, has looked in making the switch back. He has more than enough athleticism to make the conversion.
It’s just a matter of getting enough opportunities, manager Robin Ventura said. Lawrie had plenty in spring and delivered a clean brand of baseball. He committed no errors among his 53 chances and was involved in 12 double plays in 106 innings.
“He doesn’t necessarily look like a third baseman trying to switch over,” Ventura said. “He’s looked fine.
“He’s going to have good range. That’s not necessarily the issue. It’s getting used to it over there and getting as many reps as you can. As far as athletic stuff, he’s very athletic and has plenty of range.”
Lawrie’s range helped him produce 35 Defensive Runs Saved at third base over his first three seasons. And he’s seemed to have no trouble going to his left on grounders throughout the spring and the first game. Lawrie also made a nice leading throw on the final play to pitcher David Robertson, who was covering first on the play.
“Once I saw Brett catch it I knew we were going to get him out,” Robertson said. “If it gets in the hole it’s a hit. But he was right there positioned for it and it turned into an easy out.”
Though Abreu’s diving attempt briefly brought the crowd to life, Lawrie said the play was made easier by the first baseman’s presence. He credited Abreu for the way he attacks the ball — “some first baseman will bail … he wants the ball,” Lawrie said.
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Lawrie spent last season playing for the A’s and knew Monday’s crowd was louder than most. Though the stadium featured a raucous atmosphere, Lawrie said it didn’t faze him — especially by that point in the game.
That made it all the easier for Lawrie to chill.
“It’s not like it was the first inning or anything,” Lawrie said.