Blue Jays hope Sanchez returns before break

Righty to throw BP on Thursday, followed by possible Class A rehab start

June 20th, 2017
A blister that wouldn't heal has limited Aaron Sanchez to five big league starts this season. (AP)Gail Burton/AP

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays are remaining optimistic that right-hander will be able to return before the All-Star break.

Sanchez has left the team for Dunedin, Fla., and he will throw batting practice Thursday. If all goes well, he will then make a rehab start at Class A Dunedin before the next steps of his return are mapped out.

The 24-year-old Sanchez has made just five Major League starts this season because of a blister problem that would not heal. This is his third stint on the disabled list, but Toronto has taken a more cautious approach to ensure the injury has completely subsided.

"He threw really good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Sanchez's side session Monday. "He's going to go to Florida. He'll throw to hitters in batting practice on Thursday. If that goes well, we'll get him in a game down there in Dunedin and just kind of see where it all goes from there."

Sanchez last pitched for the Blue Jays on May 19. With such a long layoff, and a lack of overall innings, he likely will need to make at least a couple of rehab starts before returning. Toronto has not committed to a firm time frame for his return.

The internal hope is that Sanchez will make at least one big league start before the All-Star break, which runs from July 10-13. Even if Sanchez takes a full four days between his batting practice session and a rehab outing, he would still have time to make two rehab starts and return for the final home series before the break against the Astros from July 6-9.

Right-hander is expected to lose his rotation spot when Sanchez eventually returns. Biagini likely will head to the bullpen where he can pitch in a setup role and occasionally fill in as a long reliever. Biagini, who faces Texas on Wednesday, is 1-5 with a 4.70 ERA in eight starts.

"Realistically, it would be close to the All-Star break," Gibbons said. "He could be back before the All-Star break. Maybe pitch that Sunday right before the All-Star break."