TORONTO -- The Blue Jays expect veteran catcher John Buck to be able to rejoin the team as soon as he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list. Buck has been sidelined since Wednesday with a laceration on his right thumb.

Buck said on Sunday that he will begin playing catch on Monday to test his hand, adding that he is scheduled to have the stitches removed in a few days. If everything goes according to plan and the catcher avoids any setbacks, Buck will be eligible to return on Aug. 20 against the Red Sox.

"We're expecting him to be ready before the two weeks is up," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "We're excited to have him back, too."

When Buck does return, the Blue Jays plan on sending catcher J.P. Arencibia back to Triple-A Las Vegas. Arencibia, expected to join the Jays as a callup in September, went 4-for-5 with two home runs in his debut for Toronto on Saturday. Buck is hitting .277 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs this year.

"[Arencibia] had a nice first game, and there's a tremendous amount of pride in the organization," Anthopoulos said. "But, at the same time, John Buck is an All-Star, and he's a big part of the reason why some of these starters are performing the way they are and the season that he's had."

Jays hope to sign McGuire by deadline

TORONTO -- With the signing deadline approaching, the Blue Jays' negotiations with first-round Draft pick Deck McGuire will likely go down to the wire. On Sunday, general manager Alex Anthopoulos expressed optimism about getting a deal done.

"We continue to have dialogue," Anthopoulos said. "We continue to be optimistic, hopeful. There's no guarantees, but we're going to do what we can to try to get the player under contract."

Toronto selected McGuire out of Georgia Tech with the 11th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft in June. The deadline for signing picks is Aug. 16, and Anthopoulos -- handling negotiations with McGuire himself -- noted that he has discussed financial terms with the pitcher's camp.

Anthopoulos believes the talks could last right to the deadline, considering that has been the trend in recent years for top selections. That is a main reason that Anthopoulos feels that the signing date should be earlier in the summer, adding that the issue will be raised in the next collective bargaining agreement.

"That's what happens it seems like each year," said Anthopoulos, referring to players waiting until the last minute to sign. "I think that's why people in the next CBA want to clean up the signing deadline. If we're going to have a deadline on the 15th, why not make it June or July at some point so we can get these kids out playing?

"I think everybody in the game would prefer an earlier date. It would be better for our Minor League affiliates, it'd be better for the development for the players and, if the players didn't sign, it would bring more clarity for the college coaches."

The Blue Jays have established a signing bonus value for the 21-year-old McGuire, but the club is more than willing to walk away from negotiations if the player's demands far exceed Toronto's figure. If the Jays do not sign McGuire, the team would receive the 12th overall pick in the 2011 Draft.

"You don't know how it's going to go," Anthopoulos said. "There's still a lot of players to sign in the top half of the first round, which can change things. I wouldn't really say we're close, and I wouldn't say we're far apart."

Arencibia still on Cloud 9

TORONTO -- Rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia was at a restaurant with a small group of family and friends on Saturday night, when highlights of his historic debut with the Blue Jays appeared on the establishment's television.

"I was looking at the TV," Arencibia said, "and I was kind of talking, trying to [look down]. Not that it's a bad thing, but I was kind of embarrassed, kind of shy about it."

During Saturday's wild 17-11 win over the Rays, Arencibia enjoyed one of the greatest debuts in Major League history. In his first game wearing a Toronto uniform, Arencibia went 4-for-5 with two home runs, three runs scored, three RBIs and 11 total bases.

It may have felt like a dream on Saturday. One day later, reality set in.

"Yesterday, I was kind of in awe," Arencibia said. "I was, like, 'This can't be really happening.' I only had three hours of sleep the night before from excitement, so I was kind of tired, but looking at the highlights, I saw that, and it's, like, 'Yeah, that happened.'"

The 24-year-old Arencibia became the first catcher in baseball history to have two homers and four hits in a Major League debut. He was the first player to accomplish that feat since Columbus' Charlie Reilly did it on Oct. 9, 1889. Arencibia also tied a Modern Era -- since 1900 -- big league record with four hits in his debut.

Those kind of facts are hard for Arencibia to comprehend.

"Honestly, I haven't realized what that means," Arencibia said. "It's obviously an honor, but in this game, you never want to get too high. I've learned early that it's a game that will humble you really fast."

Bird Feed

The lone player to have five hits in a Major League debut was Louisville's Fred Clarke on June 30, 1894. ... Arencibia used right fielder Jose Bautista's bats during his first big league game and belted two home runs. Bautista currently leads the Majors with 34 home runs. "Wow," manager Cito Gaston said with a laugh. "So, how many is that? Thirty-six?" Arencibia was also wearing batting gloves belonging to teammate Vernon Wells. ... Second baseman Aaron Hill and Arencibia each launched two homers in Saturday's 17-11 win. It marked the 16th time (eight players) the Jays have had a multi-homer performance this season. It was the first time two Jays had multi-homer showings in one game since Aug. 31, 2009, when Rod Barajas and Adam Lind accomplished the feat against Texas. ... Anthopoulos said on Sunday that the Blue Jays are looking into adding a seventh Minor League affiliate in the future. With an increased emphasis on adding Latin American talent and drafting high school athletes, Toronto would like to add another low-Class A team to its system. Most organizations have six affiliates.