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06/05/08 2:40 PM ET

Wells healing faster than expected

Rehabbing Blue Jays outfielder may return by end of next week

NEW YORK -- Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Vernon Wells is on pace to return to the Blue Jays sooner than originally anticipated. On Thursday night, the center fielder was set to test his recovering left wrist in a Minor League game.

Wells' Minor League rehab stint with Class A Dunedin begins one day shy of a month since he broke his wrist on a diving catch in Cleveland on May 9. Initially, the Jays indicated that it could take anywhere between four to six weeks for Wells to make his way back to Toronto.

That timetable has now been altered, with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expressing optimism that Wells could be activated from the disabled list by the end of next week. If that turns out to be the case, Wells will be back in the fold a ahead of schedule.

"He could be back in the middle of next week or the end of next week, probably," said Gibbons, who then smiled. "If all goes Wells. ... I didn't expect him to start doing anything probably until six weeks. What's it been, four? He's drinking his milk."

A swift return for Wells certainly could aid the Jays' offense, considering he's still tied for the team lead with 24 RBIs and one off the team high with five homers, despite missing the past month. Wells, who signed a seven-year extension worth $126 million with the Jays prior to last season, is batting .281 through 36 games.

While there was good news about Wells coming out of Florida, there was still bad news in New York for Jays second baseman Aaron Hill. For the sixth straight game, Hill was held out of the lineup due to a concussion he suffered during an on-field collision with shortstop David Eckstein on May 29.

Hill hit in the batting cages prior to Thursday's game against the Yankees, but he remained on the bench as a precaution. Gibbons didn't rule out the possibility that Hill could face a DL stint, which would be backdated to his last appearance.

"He's still day-to-day," Gibbons said. "Maybe this weekend [he'll be ready], we're hoping. You can't go much longer [without considering the DL], I wouldn't think, but we'll see how he feels after today. You can't mess with those things."

Also out of the lineup for the Jays was infielder Marco Scutaro, who had been filling in at second base for Hill. Scutaro is nursing a sore right wrist, which was struck by a ground ball in Tuesday's game in the Bronx. Gibbons said the injury wasn't serious, but it made sense to give Scutaro a day to rest.

"It's not that big of a deal," Gibbons said. "But it's the perfect day to give him a day off."

Toronto catcher Rod Barajas was back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday's game in the sixth inning with tightness in his lower back. Barajas received treatment on Wednesday night, and Gibbons said the catcher was feeling much better on Thursday.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.