BRADENTON, Fla. -- Right-hander Frank Francisco is expected to throw a bullpen session on Saturday in his attempt to return from an injury to his right pectoral muscle.
Francisco was scratched from his last two outings because of soreness in the area. Even though Francisco has only made two appearances this Spring, Blue Jays manager John Farrell is optimistic he will be ready by Opening Day.
"Frankie again reported today feeling improved," Farrell said. "We feel like Saturday is a day to shoot (for) to get a bullpen in with him that will put him in line to get in a game on the 22nd.
"If that all goes according to plan, he'll get those four appearances remaining in camp that we've targeted as a satisfactory or minimal numbers in camp."
Francisco joins fellow veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel as the two pitchers who are somewhat questionable for Opening Day. Dotel was scratched from his two scheduled outings this week because of soreness in his left hamstring muscle.
The Blue Jays could opt to have both relievers throw in Minor League games prior to the start of the season. If either pitcher requires time on the 15-day disabled list, the club could backdate the starting time to March 22nd unless they appear in a Grapefruit League game after that date.
If Toronto decides to go in that direction Farrell said it would not impact either pitcher's chances of making the club at the start of the season.
"If they only pitch in Minor League games that wouldn't be a deterent for us to say they're not ready," Farrell said. "We feel like in both cases they're going to get the right amount of intensity in those situations that will give us a clear read whether they're going to be ready to go on Opening Day or not."
The one thing the Blue Jays won't do is wait for both right-handers to be ready to pitch on back-to-back days. The club has the luxury of having Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor and Shawn Camp available to pitch in late-inning situations, which allows each pitcher more time to rest.
"I don't think we can do that," Farrell said of the back-to-back days. "There's just limited time left on the calendar. The fortunate thing is if they don't we have enough options to pitch in the back end of the bullpen."
"We have the ability to go every other day in the early part of the season until a game dictates that we've got to back-to-back, which by then they would have additional appearances to build up."
Blue Jays have options with Encarnacion
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Edwin Encarnacion got the start at third base for the first time this spring in the Blue Jays' 5-3 win over the Pirates on Wednesday.
Encarnacion is expected to receive the bulk of his playing time at first base and designated hitter, but Toronto wants to ensure the 28-year-old stays fresh at third base as well.
The Dominican native appeared in 96 games at that position in 2010 but also committed 18 errors. That led to the position change, but Blue Jays manager John Farrell wants to keep his options open moving forward.
"He spent the past four or five days getting some early work at third base," Farrell said. "Just more repetition ... because it has not been that long since he's been away from there, and today [was] an opportunity to get half a game at third."
2010 Spring Training - Toronto Blue Jays
News & Features
- Blue Jays get contributions throughout lineup in win
- Lawrie's absence alters infield defense
- Gibbons returns with same approach from first stint
- Gibbons keeping options open in bullpen
- Encarnacion back in lineup at full health
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Encarnacion could see some time at third during the regular season if Jose Bautista gets hurt or needs a day off. Farrell said he would like to get Encarnacion into three or four games at the position before the end of the Grapefruit League season.
The Blue Jays are also hoping for Encarnacion to produce big numbers at the plate this season. Encarnacion homered on the first pitch he saw in Wednesday's game, and the club is optimistic his power numbers will jump after an injury-plagued 2010 campaign.
"We'd sign up today for taking his production from a year ago and spreading that out over 600 plate appearances," Farrell said of Encarnacion, who hit 21 home runs in just 332 at-bats last season. "You're looking at 40-plus home runs, that's a bat that's not just found anywhere.
"All of us recognize and see the power that's in there. He is a streaky hitter, he has proven to be a streaky hitter. He can carry us for 7-10 days at any given time and it's somewhat of a luxury to have that type of power in the second half of your lineup."
Hill makes intrasquad start Wednesday
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Second baseman Aaron Hill got the start in a Minor League intrasquad game on Wednesday afternoon.
Hill was the designated hitter and went 1-for-4. He singled, struck out, grounded out to third base and lined out to the second baseman. All three balls he made contact with reportedly were hit hard.
The 28-year-old has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game because of soreness in his right quadriceps muscle. Blue Jays manager John Farrell said after his team's game in Bradenton, Fla., that he had not yet received an update about how his veteran infielder was feeling.
Last season, Hill hit .205 with 26 home runs and 68 RBIs in 138 games.