DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays top outfield prospect Anthony Gose was returned to Minor League camp following Saturday afternoon's game against the Braves.
Gose, who is ranked the club's No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, will begin the year as the starting center fielder in Triple-A Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old Gose finished the spring hitting .259 with two RBIs and three stolen bases in parts of 18 games. Gose will now head over to the Bobby Mattick Training Center where he will continue working on developing his new approach at the plate.
"Last year was a year where we gave him some swing changes and felt like we wanted him to focus on the swing changes, not worry about the strikeouts, not worrying about bunting," Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava recently said. "We just turned him loose and let him go out there and get as many plate appearances as we could and just worry about hitting and getting his swing down.
"This year, the approach is to finish him off before he goes onto the big leagues at some point, we need to finish him off and that would be through a two-strike approach. If he puts some of those balls in play that were strikeouts, then I think the numbers are really going to show."
Earlier in the day, the Blue Jays also returned right-handers Robert Coello, Jesse Chavez and Drew Carpenter to Minor League camp. The moves didn't come as a surprise considering all three pitchers were considered long shots to make the Opening Day roster.
Toronto's bullpen appears relatively set with Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver, Jason Frasor, Carlos Villanueva and Luis Perez.
Coello, Chavez and Carpenter likely will provide organizational depth and should begin the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The Blue Jays now have 36 players remaining in the big league portion of Spring Training.
Blue Jays unsure about Francisco's return
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Ben Francisco's left hamstring injury isn't as severe as initially feared, but there is no immediate timetable for his return to the Blue Jays' lineup.
The Toronto outfielder strained the muscle while running past first base on an infield grounder during Friday night's game against Tampa Bay.
Francisco will be out for at least the next few days and the club is unsure of his status for Opening Day.
"There's no indentation that a muscle pull can sometimes give," Blue Jays manager John Farrell told reporters on Saturday morning. "There's good strength to it, but he's obviously out. How long is yet to be determined but the encouraging thing is how he felt this morning is better than we thought at the time last night."
Francisco was set to open the season in a reserve outfielder role alongside Rajai Davis. He was expected to occasionally see time in left field and at designated hitter against tough left-handers as a way to give time off to Eric Thames and Adam Lind.
The injury could provide an opportunity for utility man Mike McCoy to make the Blue Jays' 25-man roster at the beginning of the season. Travis Snider likely wouldn't receive consideration for the bench role because the club wants him to get everyday at-bats this season.
Toronto's preference to carry five outfielders on its 25-man roster is a bit unique for an American League team but Farrell likes the flexibility it provides his lineup.
"I think the situation we're in right now, it gives us not only the ability to spell guys and give a blow but it gives us late-inning adjustment," Farrell said. "It gives us starting adjustments, left, right, I don't want to suggest there's the potential for a platoon, that's not what we're looking to do but we have much more flexibility than we did a year ago."
Francisco was acquired in an offseason trade with the Phillies. Last year, he hit .244 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 100 games for Philadelphia.
Lawrie expected back in lineup Sunday
DUNEDIN, Fla -- Third baseman Brett Lawrie is expected to make his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Red Sox.
Lawrie has been out since March 16 with tightness in his left groin. He suffered the injury while attempting to score from second base during a game against the Rays but appears to be on the mend.
The 22-year-old Lawrie passed a series of tests on Friday and went through on-field activity the following day but Toronto is taking a cautious approach by giving him an extra day of rest.
"He's ready to go and yet we're holding him back one more day," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "That's our choice on that and kind of taking it out of his hands. In his mind, he's ready to go today, he's passed all the functional tests and drill work that we've put him through, but we're going to go one more day with him."
Lawrie entered play on Saturday with the team lead in doubles (six), stolen bases (five) and hits (14) despite only having 23 at-bats in nine games this spring.
Farrell still tinkering with top of order
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Manager John Farrell continues to explore his options at the top end of Toronto's batting order.
Second baseman Kelly Johnson once again found himself hitting out of the leadoff spot while Yunel Escobar was No. 2.
It's the third time in four games that the Blue Jays have opted to go with that alignment in front of Jose Bautista.
"To give it just two games is probably not enough of a look to give it a true feel," Farrell said. "The thing we'll always have to balance, with whoever is in the two hole ... is the effect it has on Jose.
"If one guy has a tendency to bunt on his own a little bit more and then all of a sudden open up the base with an intentional walk as a potential, those are game situations, how players react on their own is what we have to continue to look at."
Farrell said he still hasn't decided what his batting order will look like on Opening Day but will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days.
Blue Jays partner with Little League Baseball
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays have teamed up with Little League Baseball Canada to sponsor four national championships in 2012.
The partnership will affect baseball players in four different age groups with the range being 11-18.
It will include advertising sponsorships of each tournament while the Blue Jays also will provide scores, standings and registration information through their marketing assets.
"As Canada's only Major League Baseball team, we are very proud to be able to partner with a great organization such as Little League Baseball Canada to further to promote participation in the game of baseball and to celebrate the traditions of the game in our country," Blue Jays senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks said.
"With Little League Baseball Canada and our friends at Baseball Canada, we are showing how we can collectively work to grow baseball, at all levels, on a national scale. We are so very proud to be a part of the growing momentum of baseball across the country."
The sponsorship officially begins on July 17 with the Big League Baseball Championships (age 15-18) in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. Later in the summer, it will also include Junior League Baseball (age 12-14), Little League Baseball (11-12) and Senior League Baseball (13-16).
"Little League Baseball Canada is excited about this partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays, and we look forward to a long term relationship," said Roy Bergerman, president of Little League. "All Little Leaguers in Canada see the Blue Jays as 'their' team in the major leagues, and we know this partnership will help us to develop interest and growth in the game of Little League Baseball for children right across the country."