Colorado Rockies: Justin Lawrence capitalizes on unique second chance
By Duane DaPron
Second chances in life are sometimes hard to come by. Justin Lawrence of the Colorado Rockies was the benefactor of a unique second chance to open the 2022 season and has taken advantage of the opportunity.
After competing for an Opening Day roster spot with the Rox during spring training, the 27-year-old righthanded pitcher was optioned April 2—along with infielder Colton Welker—to Albuquerque, the organization’s Triple-A affiliate.
But just four days later, Lawrence was recalled—along with fellow pitcher Jordan Sheffield—when Rockies pitchers Lucas Gilbreath and Robert Stephenson were placed on the COVID-19 injured list.
Colorado Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence is making the most of his opportunity
As a result, Colorado Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence was a member of his first career Opening Day roster this season.
Since being granted a second chance to be with the big-league club, Lawrence has capitalized on the opportunity.
“When you get an opportunity, you got to do everything you can with it,” said Lawrence in an exclusive conversation with Rox PIle. His .136 opponent batting average is the lowest among Colorado relievers with more than one appearance.
“When you have options, you are expendable. Getting that opportunity with them (Gilbreath and Stephenson) going on the COVID-IL it’s, essentially, tryouts again—or whatever the terminology may be.
“But, at the same time, you want to go out there and perform the best you can for the team. You still want to be the best teammate that you can be also while trying to go out there and perform and show that ‘Hey, I want to be here with the team. I want to come here and perform, I want to be trusted.”
Through the team’s first 11 games this season, Lawrence has shown manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darryl Scott that he can be trusted, based on his performance in short relief out of the bullpen.
The native of Canal Zone, Panama, has not been scored upon in five of his six appearances in 2022 while compiling a 1.29 ERA in seven innings. He has allowed just three hits while fanning seven and getting opponents to hit into a pair of double plays.
Lawrence notched his second career win and first of 2022 on April 19 against Philadelphia with a scoreless relief frame. That victory was his first since July 4, 2021, against St. Louis.
Even with his early success this season, though, Lawrence knows that the possibility exists to be sent back to Albuquerque. If so, he is ready.
“If I do get sent down, I want them to know that the next time they need me, I’ll be ready whenever that may be,” said Lawrence, who made his Major League debut on April 29, 2021.
“The next time may be another opportunity to prove myself even more and just trust in the process.”
Lawrence became familiar with the option process a year ago during his six different stints on the Rockies’ active roster in the last calendar year. While with the parent club, he recorded 10 scoreless outings in 19 appearances in 2021. He finished with an 8.64 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, allowing 21 hits, 19 walks, and striking out 17.
But, for now, the 6-foot-3 product of Daytona (Florida) Junior College is focused on making the best of the situation in front of him.
“Just taking that opportunity and doing the most I can with it, he said.
“Just trust in the coaching staff and their decisions and knowing what’s best for the team. When I do get called upon (I want) to make sure I do my job to help this team win.”