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Sanchez nearing return to rotation

Happ, Donaldson, Tulowitzki progressing in rehab
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez passed what was likely his final test in returning from the disabled list on Friday, throwing a side session with no pain or setbacks. Prior to the game, manager John Gibbons said that doing so would line Sanchez up to start Sunday's series finale against Tampa Bay.

Sanchez was placed on the 10-day DL with a blister on his middle finger after his April 14th start, but a procedure to remove part of that fingernail appears to have remedied the issue for now.

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TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez passed what was likely his final test in returning from the disabled list on Friday, throwing a side session with no pain or setbacks. Prior to the game, manager John Gibbons said that doing so would line Sanchez up to start Sunday's series finale against Tampa Bay.

Sanchez was placed on the 10-day DL with a blister on his middle finger after his April 14th start, but a procedure to remove part of that fingernail appears to have remedied the issue for now.

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"Everything was good," Sanchez said. "The mechanics were good. The ball came out easy. No pain around the finger and no pain around the nail."

While dealing with the blister, Sanchez was forced to slightly alter his mechanics to get the desired spin on his pitches, especially his curveball. Friday's side session was the first time Sanchez had pitched without tape around the blister.

Sunday will mark 15 days since Sanchez's last start, and while the right-hander has not required an official rehab outing in the Minor Leagues, Sanchez's maximum workload in his first game back is still unclear.

"I think the issue is you don't want to put too much pressure on the nail to start," Sanchez said. "I don't know what my pitch count's at."

Over his first two starts this season, Sanchez threw 12 1/3 innings with a 4.38 ERA and nine strikeouts.

Sanchez and the team will continue to monitor the finger through the summer to adapt their treatment as necessary, and Sanchez has remained in contact daily with the doctor from Kansas City who performed the procedure on his nail.

Elsewhere in the starting rotation, J.A. Happ, who is also on the DL with left elbow inflammation, was backed off from throwing while playing catch recently. Gibbons expects that Happ will play catch again in a few days and they can update his progress.

Donaldson, Tulowitzki bound for Dunedin on Sunday

Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki will both travel to Dunedin after Sunday's finale to continue their rehab process at Toronto's facilities. Donaldson, who is dealing with a calf injury, last played on April 13th and Tulowitzki injured his hamstring running the bases on April 21st.

"It's hard to say," Gibbons said of their timelines. "Josh is moving along. They're both going to head to Florida Sunday after the game here. No set dates yet, either one of them, but they're both feeling better."

Donaldson played in just nine games before his injury, but leads the Blue Jays in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS after a hot start. Entering play on Friday, Toronto was tied for 26th in Major League Baseball with 78 runs scored.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Troy Tulowitzki