Notes: Zaun set for Florida rehab stint
Catcher optimistic about early June return to big leagues
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are finally receiving good news on the injury front. Coming on the heels of Roy Halladay's announcement that he is ready to re-enter the starting rotation is word that catcher Gregg Zaun is about to begin a rehab assignment.
Zaun could be back with the team as early as next week.
Zaun will head to Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday and will likely begin participating in Gulf Coast League exhibition games Wednesday. He'll start his rehab as a designated hitter and, since the GCL's season has not officially begun, Zaun will be allowed to bat in each inning of every game that he plays in.
Prior to Monday's game vs. the Yankees, Zaun was on the field working out with Jays bench coach, and former catcher, Ernie Whitt. It was the first time Zaun went behind the plate and started practicing throws to the bases since breaking his right thumb April 24. He said he only has about 60 percent of his arm strength and that he probably won't begin playing defense until three or four days into his Florida rehab stint.
It's been a frustrating road to recovery for the 13-year veteran, as his injured hand continues to dictate when he can work out and for how long.
"I can only work it so long before it just stops," Zaun said. "I work it, and work it, to the point of failure, and then I can't grip anything anymore. My hand hurts, I physically can't hold onto the bat anymore. I go and ice it down and it feels a little bit better. I wake up the next day and it feels stiff. I heat it up and it feels a little stronger than the day before. That's really how it goes."
After serving as the designated hitter in Dunedin for a few games, Zaun hopes to make his return behind the plate. If everything goes as planned, Zaun will be in Dunedin for about a week before moving up to Triple-A Syracuse. He hopes to be able to return to the Major Leagues when the Jays open a six-game West Coast road trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco on June 8-13.
"If I end up making it back by the road trip, which is what we hope for," Zaun said, "then the recovery will be right at six weeks, which is really on the short side. Most people spend six weeks in a cast. If I'm back playing in the big leagues after six weeks, that's pretty good."
Rotation changes on the way: Hallady is set to make his return on Thursday against the White Sox, but the Jays have not yet made an official announcement about who will be coming out of the rotation to make room for their No. 1 starter, who underwent an emergency appendectomy May 11. Jays manager John Gibbons did hint, though, that his team's upcoming off-day June 4, could affect what Toronto does.
Right-hander Jesse Litsch is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Yankees, and his next appearance would have fallen on June 4. Since that is an off-day, Toronto will not require a fifth starter until June 8 against the Dodgers. That start will either go to Litsch or right-hander Tomo Ohka.
Glaus back in: Third baseman Troy Glaus was back in the lineup Monday night after sitting out Sunday's game against the Twins because of recurring problems with his left heel. Glaus will likely need to be given occasional days off for the remainder of the season as he tries to battle through a bone spur that has caused him to go on the disabled list once already this season.
Did you know? A.J. Burnett has struck out 52 batters over 43 innings in six May starts. That ranks him first in both categories for all American League pitchers.
Roster move: Following Monday's game against the Yankees, Toronto optioned infielder Ryan Roberts to Triple-A Syracuse and on Tuesday will purchase the contract of right-handed pitcher Brian Wolfe. The 26-year-old pitcher was acquired in January 2006 in the trade that sent third baseman Corey Koskie to the Brewers.
Wolfe was 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA in 14 relief appearances for Triple-A Syracuse this season. He allowed just two runs and four walks while striking out eight in 21 2/3 innings for the SkyChiefs.
Gibbons said Wolfe got the call because of his impressive start to the season and the Jays' desire to go with an eight-man bullpen.
"He's been pitching great down there," Gibbons said. "He's been on our radar for awhile. Our bullpen was a little worn out coming out of that 13-inning game and the Baltimore and Minnesota series. So, that extra arm will definitely help us."
Update from the farm: Right-hander Kyle Yates pitched six shutout innings Sunday en route to his second win of the season for Double-A New Hampshire. Yates has now extended his scoreless innings streak to 14 2/3, the longest by a New Hampshire pitcher this season.
Quotable: "Well I get to go to breakfast at Lenny's, I know that, I get to go back to my breakfast spot. That's the most promising thing about heading down there. At this minute, I'm looking forward to having breakfast on Wednesday." -- Zaun, when asked to identify something positive about going to Dunedin at this time of year
Coming up: Shaun Marcum (2-3, 4.33 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Toronto when the Blue Jays play host to the Yankees at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. New York will counter with veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-3, 2.66 ERA).
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.