ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays gained one reliever with the return of Sergio Santos on Thursday but lost another, as right-hander Dustin McGowan went back on the 15-day disabled list.
McGowan suffered a strained oblique while pitching against the A's on Monday night. The discomfort became more severe during the ensuing couple of days and he could now miss a significant period of time.
The Blue Jays are more than familiar with oblique injuries. Third baseman Brett Lawrie missed time earlier in the season because of the same problem, and right-hander Brandon Morrow had trouble returning from one last year. It's the type of ailment that's hard to gauge just how long the recovery process will take.
"It's hard to say," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons of McGowan's time table, adding that he will be completely shut down for at least the next few days. "Those things can get bad. We don't think it is, but they can drag on, too. We don't know yet."
McGowan strained his oblique while pitching to Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes but decided to remain in the game. He faced another two batters in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh.
That would normally be a cause for concern, because the Blue Jays would like to see pitchers disclose a potential injury as soon as it happens, but Gibbons is willing to cut McGowan some slack. The oft-injured reliever entered this season having appeared in just five games since 2008 because of multiple shoulder problems, a knee injury and plantar fasciitis.
There's a level of frustration for McGowan as he attempts to remain on the field for an extended period of time. He has made 16 appearances for the Blue Jays this season, allowing just four earned runs over 17 innings.
"He's different; he has been hurt so much," Gibbons said. "He's probably tired of being hurt. But you have to be smart with it because that can linger, that can turn into a long-term deal."
Melky lands on disabled list
ANAHEIM -- Melky Cabrera is headed back to the disabled list after he was pulled from Thursday night's game in the fourth inning because of irritation in his left knee.
Toronto's left fielder returned from the 15-day DL on July 21 after an absence of nearly a month for a similar injury. The hope was that an extended period of rest would enable him to finish the season, but the plan clearly did not work.
Cabrera sat out a pair of games in Oakland this week because he was unable to cover ground in left, and even after he got back into the starting lineup Thursday it became evident that he's not capable of playing quality defense.
"His knee flared up," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the Blue Jays' 8-2 loss to the Angels. "He'll go on the DL and get an MRI tomorrow. It's probably similar to what he had last time."
Cabrera's lack of range proved problematic during the Angels' first at-bat. Kole Calhoun lifted a fly ball to left field that most outfielders would have been able to track down, but Cabrera couldn't come up with it.
The 28-year-old had further difficulties in the third inning when his attempted throw back into the infield slipped out of his hand and allowed Mark Trumbo to score all the way from first base.
A timetable for his return wasn't immediately clear.
Right-hander Neil Wagner was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to take Cabrera's spot on the 25-man roster. Wagner became a favorite of Gibbons earlier this season when he posted a 3.26 ERA in 19 1/3 innings before Cabrera's previous return from the DL forced his demotion to the Minors.
Santos rejoins Blue Jays bullpen
ANAHEIM -- Sergio Santos has finally rejoined the Blue Jays bullpen following an absence of almost four months because of bone spurs in his right elbow.
Santos was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 14 with soreness in his right triceps muscle. It was expected to be a relatively short-term injury, but the soreness didn't subside and an issue was discovered in his elbow.
That resulted in a surgical procedure that kept Santos on the sidelines until early July, when he began a rehab assignment in the Minor Leagues. He was activated prior to Thursday night's game against the Angels and will assume a spot in middle relief.
"I was making progress with every inning I was throwing, as far as with my pitches," Santos said of his rehab. "It's just a matter of getting back into the flow of games and I'm hoping with each inning I throw, each game I'm in, I can speed that process up a little bit."
Injury problems have been an ongoing concern for Santos, who has thrown just 9 1/3 innings since coming over from the White Sox in a trade at the 2011 Winter Meetings. Last year, a shoulder injury ended his season after just five games.
Santos was acquired by general manager Alex Anthopoulos to become the Blue Jays' closer after he saved 30 games for Chicago in 2011. He lost that job to Casey Janssen because of the prolonged injury and was expected to serve as the eighth-inning setup man in 2013.
That also has changed because of the emergence of All-Stars Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil, but there are still plenty of innings to go around. Santos admitted he thought about the depth of Toronto's bullpen on his way back to the Majors but said it couldn't impact his outlook.
"You can't help but wonder, but the smart guy inside says not to really think about it because it's not in my control," Santos said when asked if he doubted his future spot on the Blue Jays. "All I can control is how I'm feeling and trying to get back healthy.
"It's hard to get a year and a half of work in just nine innings. I know it's going to be a process. I'd like it to be as smooth and in rhythm as I was when coming here, I know those expectations are a little high so all I can do is just work pitch by pitch. I'm taking that mindset for the rest of the season and hopefully it works."
Toronto hasn't been exposed to much of Santos over the past two years but he still has the potential to become one of the elite bullpen arms in the American League. He has an upper-90s velocity fastball with a devastating slider that generates a lot of swings and misses.
The 30-year-old Santos pitched six innings for Triple-A Buffalo during his recent rehab stint, but the real test comes now that he will be matched up against big league hitters.
"It's just a little different because down in the Minor Leagues they're swinging at everything," Santos said. "So it was hard, when you want to get ahead with a first-pitch fastball and kind of work on things, you can't really work an at-bat, because they're pretty much swinging at every pitch and putting the ball in play. So that was difficult but once you get past that, I was focusing more on my pitches than what they were doing."