Notes: Zaun itching to return
Jays catcher takes batting practice despite cast on right hand
TORONTO -- Gregg Zaun is willing to do whatever he can to return to the Blue Jays as soon as possible. If that means Toronto's injured catcher has to take one-handed swings for batting practice, so be it.
That's exactly what Zaun did on Monday at Rogers Centre. With a cast on his right hand serving as a constant reminder of the foul ball that broke his right thumb on April 24, the 36-year-old catcher went through some running drills on the field before heading to the batting cage.
"I've just got to keep moving," said Zaun, who is scheduled to have the cast removed on Tuesday. "I don't want to let myself get too far out of shape and make the rehab take longer."
In fact, Zaun has already established a personal timetable for his return. He'd like to be ready to get back in a game by the second week of June, which would be six weeks after he had two screws surgically inserted into his hand.
After having his cast removed, Zaun will wear a removable splint on his thumb. He's also scheduled to meet with a hand therapist on Tuesday to begin discussing his rehab, which probably won't include baseball activities for the first month. With the splint, Zaun said he'll be able to start adding more strengthening excercises to his current routine.
"Hopefully when they take the cast off, they'll see some good things and we'll get to work right away," Zaun said. "Then, the stitches come out a week later and I'll be able to be a lot more aggressive in my therapy."
Toronto manager John Gibbons doesn't doubt Zaun's work ethic, but he said he and the rest of the Jays' staff are going to make sure the catcher is completely recovered before inserting him back into the lineup. Gibbons added that it's important to keep a close eye on players who are as intense as Zaun when it comes to dealing with injuries.
"He's going to push himself," Gibbons said. "He's one of those guys who you probably have to watch and make sure he's good and ready. He's naturally going to want to come back sooner. It depends on how the body heals. It may not allow him to [come back as quickly as he'd like]."
Roney suspended: A little more than a week ago, the Blue Jays nearly promoted Minor League pitcher Matt Roney from Triple-A Syracuse to Toronto's bullpen. In five games with the Chiefs, the right-hander was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10 innings.
Now, though, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi is considering additional discipline for Roney, who was suspended 50 games on Monday for testing positive for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
"We're looking into what we can and can't do," Ricciardi said."It's one thing if you get hurt and it's another thing if you're just not good enough. But to take it away from yourself because of the decisions you make, you've got to just sit there and wonder what's going through guys' heads sometimes."
The Blue Jays signed the 27-year-old Roney in November and he went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA during Spring Training for Toronto. Ricciardi said that the Jays almost purchased Roney's contract on April 22, but decided instead to add lefty Brian Tallet to Toronto's bullpen.
Surgery for League? There's little progress to report in the strange case of right-hander Brandon League. The would-be setup man for the Jays showed up to Spring Training with an overdeveloped right lat muscle, and League has been unable to reach the same velocity he's had in the past as a result.
League is currently on the 15-day DL and is working with a long-toss program that is part of his rehabiliation in Dunedin, Fla. Ricciardi said Monday that League has shown some slight improvement, but there's still no timetable for his return to game action. If that continues to be the case, shoulder surgery could be on the horizon.
"I think we're going to let it run it's course a little longer," Ricciardi said. "Then we may need a little more analysis on it to see if he may need surgery."
Big Mac attack: Including Monday night, Toronto infielder John McDonald has started over Royce Clayton in three of the last fives games at shortstop. Gibbons said the reason was McDonald's recent hot streak at the plate.
McDonald entered Monday with a 10-game hitting streak, in which he was hitting .469 (15-for-32). For the season, "Johnny Mac" had a .447 average with three RBIs in 15 games for the Blue Jays.
"He's hot, man," Gibbons said. "He's on a nice little hitting streak and he's playing so good right now. He's on a 10-gamer right now -- we don't want to screw that up."
Late scratch: Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells was removed from the starting lineup shortly before game time against Texas on Monday. Gibbons said that Wells was suffering from flu-like symptoms and was given the day off as a result.
Coming up: Toronto right-hander A.J. Burnett (2-1, 4.18 ERA) is slated to take the hill when the Blue Jays face the Indians at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Jacobs field. Cleveland will counter with left-hander C.C. Sabthia (3-0, 3.18 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.