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06/11/08 1:43 PM ET

Stewart's right ankle improves slightly

Left fielder hopeful for quick return to Jays lineup after MRI exam

TORONTO -- Shannon Stewart said his right ankle sprain has slightly improved over recent days and the left fielder is remaining hopeful of a quick return to the Blue Jays lineup.

"Feels a lot better," Stewart said Wednesday. "I don't think [the recovery time] is going to be as long as I thought it was."

The outfielder, who had an MRI exam on his ankle recently, said that doctors informed him that he would be out for at least 15 days or possibly longer, depending on how his rehab goes.

"I tore some ligaments inside, so I just have to be careful," Stewart said. "They said I have to really strengthen the area, just to make sure that when I come back, I don't reinjure it."

Stewart also said that when he wakes up in the morning, his ankle is sore, however it usually gets better as the day goes on.

"When I go to bed, I feel like 'OK, maybe I can start doing some stuff,'" he said. "But when I get up in the morning, it's like 'You're not ready.'"

Stewart injured the ankle in the first inning of Saturday's game against Baltimore. Leading off for the Jays, he grounded a ball to the left side of the infield that was scooped cleanly by Baltimore third baseman Aubrey Huff, but his throw drew first baseman Kevin Millar off the bag.

As Stewart tried to avoid a collision with Millar, he turned his right ankle on the turf and fell to the ground in pain.

"I knew something was wrong," said Stewart. "I was just hoping that I didn't break it. It was one of those things where, when I went down, I had this pain and I just hoped I didn't break it. But when I was able to limp off the field, I knew it wasn't broken.

"It's just one of those years, but hopefully I can come back at full tilt."

In 52 games for Toronto this season, Stewart was hitting .240 with one home run, four doubles and 14 RBIs.

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.