TORONTO -- Jose Bautista is nearing a return and could begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday.
Toronto's right fielder hasn't played since straining his left wrist during a swing against New York on July 16. He took live batting practice on Wednesday for the first time since the injury and has begun to take positive strides in the recovery process.
Bautista was scheduled to take live batting practice in a cage again on Thursday and he'll also take 20 swings off a tee with a regular bat and another 20 swings off a tee with a fungo bat.
"There will be an off-day built in here somewhere," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Bautista's upcoming schedule. "At the end of the day yesterday he felt like it was reasonable and right in line with repeating what he did yesterday, today.
"After today and potentially an off-day tomorrow then it's assumed at this point, or tentatively planned, that he would take live BP on the field for a couple of days and then we're looking at getting him in games after that."
Bautista likely would need three or four rehab games before being ready for a return to the Blue Jays. He's expected to take batting practice on the field on Saturday and Sunday and if all goes well, he should be cleared to start appearing in games.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie is also nearing a return to the lineup. Lawrie is currently working out at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., as he recovers from a strained left oblique.
The native of Langley, British Columbia, is expected to appear in a pair of rehab games for Class A Dunedin this weekend and could return to the Blue Jays lineup on Tuesday in Detroit.
Sore Encarnacion scratched from lineup
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion was a late scratch from the Blue Jays lineup on Thursday because of soreness in both his left forearm and shoulder.
Encarnacion was hurt while attempting to make a diving play during the second inning of Wednesday night's 9-5 loss to the White Sox. He sprawled out to try to take a hit away from Dewayne Wise but landed hard on his left shoulder and then rolled over onto his wrist.
The 29-year-old was originally scheduled to start Thursday but the soreness lingered during pregame activities. He is listed as day to day.
"I think it's stiff, like a bruise when you get hit," said Encarnacion, adding that he woke up more sore on Thursday. "I don't think it's anything bad. I think it is going to take a day, maybe one, maybe I'll play tomorrow. I think I'm going to feel better tomorrow."
Encarnacion was playing left field for just the second time in his career at the time of the injury. It was a spot start at the position designed to ease Colby Rasmus back into the starting lineup as a designated hitter following a right groin injury.
Farrell said he felt the injury was a fluke occurrence and while Encarnacion won't start taking regular reps in left, the club wouldn't shy away from using him there again in an emergency situation.
Encaracion's injury is yet another blow to the Blue Jays, who are currently playing without the services of Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia. Even though Bautista and Lawrie are on the mend, Toronto can ill afford to lose Encarnacion for any period of time in what has become a breakout season at the plate.
"His effort throughout, whether he has been DH, left field, third base, first base, he has done an outstanding job for us," Farrell said. "His baserunning, Edwin has been very consistent, he has been outstanding."
Encarnacion leads Toronto with 30 homers while also posting a .293 average and 80 RBIs in 114 games.