06/10/08 7:39 PM ET
Injured Jays working toward returns
Zaun closest to rejoining club; others coming along as planned
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Toronto was waiting to see if outfielders Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, who are nursing some minor ailments, would be able to play. By game time, Wells and Rios had passed their respective pregame tests and were both back in the lineup for the Jays.
On Monday, Wells injured his right ankle and Rios tweaked his back and groin. Having the pair avoid any missed time was good news for the Jays, who are trying to get a handful of other players back from various health woes as quickly as possible.
Catcher Gregg Zaun appears to be the closest to returning -- though not on Wednesday, as the Jays initially hoped. The revised plan is for Zaun, who has been resting a sore right elbow on the 15-day disabled list, to head out on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday.
Zaun will serve as a designated hitter for Syracuse on Wednesday and he'll log some innings behind the plate for the Triple-A squad on Thursday, which is an off-day for the Jays. If everything goes according to plan, Zaun will be activated from the DL on Friday.
"Hopefully he'll be OK and we'll be able to activate him on Friday," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.
Prior to Tuesday's game, and for the second day in a row, Zaun spent time throwing to second base from behind the dish during pregame drills. Considering he's been sidelined since May 27, Zaun wants to make sure his arm is fully recovered before rejoining the Jays.
"Today was the first time I really let it go full-tilt and it felt pretty good," Zaun said. "My only question mark right now is my arm stamina. I don't know how much I'm going to have. I don't want to get into a track meet where everybody's stealing bases because I just came off the DL."
Second baseman Aaron Hill, who has been sidelined with a concussion since May 29, could potentially begin a Minor League rehab assignment sometime next week. Ricciardi said Hill has experienced no symptoms for the past two days.
Ricciardi noted that Toronto's medical staff wants Hill -- eligible to be activated from the DL on Saturday -- to have gone at least a week sans symptoms before shipping him out to play some rehab games.
"Hopefully we're looking at next week, being able to send him on a rehab," Ricciardi said. "He feels a lot better. He's not dizzy. He's not nauseous. He's on the field moving around. After exercise, he's not dizzy. They consider that asymptomatic."
Ricciardi also indicated that left fielder Shannon Stewart, who sprained his right ankle in Saturday's game against Baltimore, is expected to be out a minimum of three weeks. Ricciardi said an MRI exam on Stewart's ankle revealed a Grade 2 sprain, which typically includes partial tearing of a ligament.
Blue Jays reliever Jeremy Accardo, who has been on the DL with a strained right forearm since May 10, was scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab stint with Class A Dunedin on Tuesday night. Accardo is expected to need at least another week before possibly rejoining the Toronto's bullpen.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.