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03/28/12 2:25 PM ET

Blue Jays monitor Lind as he eyes return

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays remain optimistic that Adam Lind could be back in the lineup on Saturday against Philadelphia.

Toronto's first baseman was a late scratch from Tuesday night's game because of tightness in his lower back. It's the same issue that landed him on the disabled list for almost a month last season and lingered for most of the year.

Lind will be held out of baseball activity for the next two days, but if all goes well, he is expected to take batting practice on Friday.

"It's a situation that we have to continue to monitor," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who added the club will have to take a cautious approach all season. "He's understanding, as we are, the amount of maintenance work that has to be done there, and we just have to monitor the overall volume of work.

"We'll pick spots to give him some periodic rest and maybe some regular rest inside of a seven-day period. The schedule, the matchups, might lend to when those off-days come. It's a situation we have to manage."

Lind underwent an MRI on Tuesday and also was given a physical examination by a local doctor. The tightness was relegated to one specific area, which is a relatively good sign for the native of Indiana.

"It's not like there was broad tightness across the back," Farrell said. "In [the doctor's] opinion, he felt like this is normal in terms of someone having to deal with some lower back issues, and yet the baseball activities flared up in one spot.

"The other thing is that Adam has been so diligent with his back exercises, he felt like he has overdone them somewhat, because he would do them at home after leaving the ballpark. So we feel like, while it's a little bit of a setback ... feel like he'll be back in the lineup on the weekend."

Discomfort leads to McGowan getting shelved

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Dustin McGowan has been temporarily shut down from all baseball activity because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

McGowan attempted to throw off flat ground on Wednesday morning, but the lingering discomfort caused problems with his mechanics. As a result, the Blue Jays have opted to limit McGowan's activity until he is deemed fully healthy.

"He felt like his arm slot would begin to vary a little bit, and that is the one telltale sign that we'll stay away from -- any variation from that putting the additional stress on the throwing motion," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

McGowan was expected to open the season as Toronto's No. 5 starter, but it now appears unlikely that he will be ready to go. That has opened the door for 24-year-old Kyle Drabek to break camp with the team.

Toronto has three off-days in the first two weeks of the season, which means the club would only need to go with a fifth starter once prior to April 21.

Francisco expected to play this weekend

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Ben Francisco continues to make progress in his recovery from a left hamstring injury.

Francisco was set to go through a series of running drills and hit in a batting cage on Wednesday. The 30-year-old originally suffered the injury while running out a ground ball on March 23 against Tampa Bay.

Toronto's reserve outfielder is expected to return to action this weekend, and he should be ready when the Blue Jays' season opens on April 5 in Cleveland.

"Everything looks like he should be available the last four days of Spring Training, Saturday through Tuesday," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "If we can get him eight to 10 at-bats over the course of that time, I think that would be ample.

"I thought his timing was good before the hamstring injury, particularly against left-handers, which, let's face it, he's a stronger hitter against left-handed pitching. First things first -- get him through the running phase and then get him back on the field, and we'll go from there."

Francisco was acquired during the offseason from Philadelphia in exchange for cash considerations. Last year, Francisco hit .245 with a .661 OPS against lefties and is batting .261 with a .768 OPS during his career against southpaws.

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.