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Brett Lawrie plays 'crazy hard' (and Mike Trout noticed)

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

NEW YORK -- We notice Mike Trout.

Mike Trout notices Brett Lawrie.

"Brett plays the game crazy hard," Trout said last week at the All-Star Game. "And that's good."

This isn't about how hard Lawrie can go at an umpire, even if that seems to be what most fans this side of the border know about him. It's about how hard he runs to first base . . . and to second . . . and to third.

This is about how he'll sacrifice his body trying to catch a pop fly, as the Blue Jays 22-year-old third baseman did Wednesday against the Yankees. Lawrie went flying into a camera pit, and had to leave the game because of a calf injury.

The best young players in baseball are quickly gaining respect not only for their talent, but for how hard they play. That goes for Trout, it goes for Bryce Harper, it goes for others like Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.

And, maybe most of all, it goes for Lawrie.

His numbers this year are good but not spectacular, down some from his 43-game rookie debut in 2011. But the hard-driving style remains the same, and it's that style as much as the talent that has gained notice.

"I watch him and I think what it would be like to have him coming in to break up a double play," said one scout who played middle infield in the big leagues. "I think of the old-time guys and how hard they would come in, and I see him and he's just like that."

His teammates notice. His teammates say they feed off Lawrie's energy, the same way Nationals players said that Harper's "teenage energy" has positively infected their team.

"The way he goes down the line, the way he races to third base, that's what they preach here," Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis said.

Mathis saw Lawrie as an opponent last year, and wondered what it was all about.

"Playing against him, you thought he just got jacked up for three hours," Mathis said. "But that's how he is. The way he is on the field is how he is 24 hours a day."

The energy and the hard-driving personality hasn't always been welcomed by teammates. Lawrie had some trouble as a minor leaguer with the Brewers, one reason Milwaukee was willing to part with him in the Dec. 2010 trade for Shaun Marcum.

The Blue Jays looked at Lawrie differently almost from the start, and he became an almost immediate favorite of manager John Farrell.

Farrell looks at the emergence of Harper, Trout, Lawrie and the others as a great sign for the game.

"We're starting to see that with guys coming in, and it's great," Farrell said. "The game's got a chance to have a new face. They're hard-nosed, not afraid to get their uniform dirty.

"It's refreshing."

Lawrie appreciated the "crazy hard" description from Trout.

"I know Mike Trout plays hard," Lawrie said. "All the young guys play the game hard. That's how you get up here at a young age, playing with that fire."

Besides, Lawrie said, it's just the way the game is supposed to be played.

"That's the way I've always done things," he said. "It's just the way I've always been. Anytime I don't run a ball out hard, I think I've let myself down."

There's no danger of that. He's running hard -- crazy hard -- and he's getting noticed.

"That's a great description," Jays outfielder Rajai Davis said. "He plays all out. He brings energy, enthusiasm, excitement for the game. He's passionate."

And yes, people are noticing.

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