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06/23/09 7:45 PM ET

Jays set Halladay's return for Monday

Toronto ace on pace to start against Tampa Bay at home

TORONTO -- If all goes as planned, Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay will be pitching against the Rays on Monday at Rogers Centre, taking the mound for the first time since straining his right groin earlier this month.

Halladay threw a bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon before the Jays' tilt against the Reds, marking his first time working off a mound since testing his groin in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"He felt good and he's going to probably throw a side [session] on Friday, and we'll go from there," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said on Tuesday.

Halladay's groin problem dates back to a June 12 start against the Marlins at Rogers Centre. He left the game in the fourth inning after feeling pain in his right groin on the second pitch he threw in the frame and speaking with Blue Jays trainer George Poulis. Halladay was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, retroactive to June 13.

Halladay is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, and he was hoping he would be ready to pitch this weekend. He appeared to be on schedule to do so, but the Jays are opting to push his start to Monday instead.

"Just [to] give him another day's rest," Gaston said.

Given the recent spate of injuries to Toronto's already depleted pitching staff -- starter Casey Janssen (right shoulder) and closer Scott Downs (toe) both were placed on the DL recently as well -- the news that Halladay likely will be back within a week certainly is welcome.

Janssen started the season on the DL, along with right-handers Dustin McGowan (right shoulder) and Shaun Marcum (right elbow), who are not expected back soon. Left-hander Ricky Romero also missed time with an oblique strain, and righty Jesse Litsch recently underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his pitching elbow.

The Toronto bullpen has been taxed recently as well, with three of the Jays' past six games going into extra innings and rookie Brad Mills pitching only 3 2/3 innings in his Major League debut on Thursday. The return of Halladay, a workhorse who pitched at least seven innings in all of his starts this year before getting hurt, would help ease the strain.

Halladay is in the midst of another All Star-worthy season. He is tied for the Major League lead with 10 wins, and he's posted a 2.53 ERA in 103 innings while striking out 88.

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