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03/17/11 1:05 PM ET

Hill offering Blue Jays encouraging signs

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Hill appeared in a Minor League game on Thursday afternoon for the second consecutive day.

Hill started at designated hitter and was expected to receive four at-bats. It marks another step forward in his attempt to return from a right quadriceps injury.

The 28-year-old received clearance to appear in another game after he arrived at the Blue Jays' clubhouse feeling no ill effects from Wednesday's workout.

"He's clear to do all pregame and baseball activities," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "The one area that he's still guarded and going at a controlled pace is when he breaks out of the [batter's] box. I think there's some confidence growing internally there with him as he gets some repetition under his belt."

Running out of the box has been the biggest test for Hill's leg, because it requires a quick burst of speed that puts a lot of stress on the quadriceps muscle. On Wednesday, he purposely started running at a relatively slow pace, but he will look to increase the intensity as he continues to progress.

Hill has continued going through fielding drills, and since he is now able to face live pitching, he should make a quick return once deemed ready.

"I think at the outset, we want to be sure that he comes out of the box without any restrictions," Farrell said. "And that will be the telltale sign, because all the baseball activity, all the infield work, all of that is still being done. We feel like as long as he doesn't have that reservation as strong in his mind, there won't be a hesitation to put him back into an 'A' game."

Last season, Hill hit .205 with 26 home runs and 68 RBIs in 138 games.

Hampered Dotel throws bullpen session

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Octavio Dotel threw a light bullpen session on Thursday after being temporarily shut down with a left hamstring injury.

Dotel suffered the injury during a game against Tampa Bay on March 8. He was scratched from his two scheduled outings this week, and he's gradually working himself back into game condition.

Fellow veteran right-hander Frank Francisco is scheduled to throw off a mound on Friday. The 31-year-old is suffering from soreness in his right pectoral muscle but is expected to pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday.

Toronto also received encouraging news on right-hander Scott Richmond. The 31-year-old began a throwing program on Wednesday, did long toss on Thursday and is expected to throw off a mound on Saturday. Richmond has appeared in just one Grapefruit League game this spring because of inflammation in his right shoulder.

The news isn't quite as good with left-hander Jesse Carlson. The 31-year-old is feeling better but still does not have a set time frame for his return from inflammation in his shoulder.

"He was having his [MRI results] read as a second opinion just to get some consistency with the diagnosis," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "The most encouraging thing is that he does feel like there is some improvement in there, so that's indicating that the inflammation is getting out of there."

Blue Jays to have Bautista, Lind in middle

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' batting order is starting to take shape with just over two weeks remaining until Opening Day.

Manager John Farrell said on Thursday that if the season were to start now, he would have Jose Bautista batting third and Adam Lind batting fourth against right-handers. The two players have spent time in each slot during Grapefruit League games this spring.

"The one thing I like is the fact that Jose has a little bit more of ability to go first to third on the basepaths," Farrell said. "Against a right-hander, with Adam sitting behind him, it does provide a little bit more protection. I think Adam has warmed up to the four-hole more than maybe he has in the past. Those are all positives."

Under that scenario, left fielder Travis Snider would drop to either sixth or seventh, as Farrell attempts to separate the two left-handed hitters on the club.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.