06/06/08 8:45 PM ET
Blue Jays happy to be home
After tough end to road trip, team returns to Toronto
By Stephanie J. Geosits / Special to MLB.com
"It's good to be back home, I'll tell you that," Gibbons said. "We got the last long road trip out of the way."
The Jays began their 10-day, nine-game homestand in third place in the American League East, 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, but a number of their players sit on the disabled list or very close to it.
Center fielder Vernon Wells, who has missed 25 games with a fractured left wrist, began his rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Thursday with good results, He drove in four runs on two hits in the team's 15-6 drubbing of Jupiter. Infielder John McDonald, also on a rehab assignment for his right ankle sprain, added two hits.
While Gibbons was noncommittal on Wells' exact return date, the manager speculated it would be the middle of next week.
"He played last night and he's going to play tonight, and we'll see," Gibbons said.
Second baseman Aaron Hill, who suffered a concussion on May 29, still is listed as day-to-day, but he may get moved to the DL depending on more tests.
"He's going to get checked out," Gibbons said. "He's still not right, and you can't mess around with a head injury. If it goes much longer, we almost have to [put him on the DL to] get an extra body here."
According to Gibbons, Hill is still "lightheaded and [has] occasional headaches. He's done a couple days of BP, but not a whole lot more than that."
Catcher Gregg Zaun is due to make his return next Wednesday during the Seattle series. He is rehabbing an inflamed right elbow.
With all of the injuries the team is facing, Gibbons was optimistic as his team returned to its familiar surroundings.
"No question [the team played well enough to win six or seven] games on the road trip," he said. "[We had] a couple of tough losses. ... We lost to Anaheim [on a walk-off home run] and yesterday [the same way], but we also made the trip out West and finished in New York [before], and we've been destroyed. We've been playing good ball. We're in every game.
"Now we're home for the month of June pretty much, and this is where you've gotta play. We feel pretty good about that."
Ryan surrendered the two walk-offs to end both the Anaheim and New York series in back-to-back appearances. He had been 12-for-12 in save opportunities. The left-hander is back after undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery a little more than a year ago.
"There's no ducking or dodging or hiding about it," Ryan said of his two straight losses. "You just be a man about it. This is your job. Part of the job is dealing with some form of failure. It was a tough day. It's a tough day to swallow, but everything's good. [We] get home get here today, get [starter Shaun] Marcum out there pitching and see what we can do."
The Jays will have to get by the Orioles, who are in last place in the division but only 1 1/2 games behind Toronto. Gibbons has been impressed with what he's seen of Baltimore so far.
"They have a different look now," Gibbons said. "It's almost like they have a little more intensity about them than I've seen in the past. The way the game changes as far as the offense is going, teams aren't just outslugging everybody. "
Although the Blue Jays have encountered some bad luck lately with injuries and tough losses, Gibbons is confident things will even out soon.
"A lot of that stuff balances out," he said. "Yeah, [yesterday's game was] a heartbreaker, because it's in New York, where it's always tough playing anyway. But you know what? The game goes on, and you better go with it."
Stephanie J. Geosits is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.