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Sanchez will take ball for first start after break

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will get the first start for the Blue Jays when they open up the second half of the season with a series against the Tigers on Friday night.

Sanchez was the logical choice to start the opener because he needs the innings. The 25-year-old was limited to six starts during the first half because of a blister on his right middle finger that just wouldn't go away.

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TORONTO -- Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will get the first start for the Blue Jays when they open up the second half of the season with a series against the Tigers on Friday night.

Sanchez was the logical choice to start the opener because he needs the innings. The 25-year-old was limited to six starts during the first half because of a blister on his right middle finger that just wouldn't go away.

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The native of Florida went to the disabled list three times over the course of the season's first three months. He returned on July 7 and allowed eight runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and four walks without any strikeouts. One of the reasons Sanchez will start the opener is to get him into a normal routine as quickly as possible.

"Sanchez is going to throw the first night," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He needs the least amount of rest. We have to keep him moving."

Toronto has yet to announce the rest of its plans for the rotation. The Blue Jays are expected to make the rest of the schedule official at some point during the upcoming All-Star break.

Smith on the mend

Right-hander Joe Smith threw a side session on Sunday morning as he continues to recover from soreness in his right shoulder. Smith has been out since June 14, and while the injury initially was supposed to be require the minimum 10-day absence, it has taken a lot longer than expected to heal.

Smith will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, and he's then expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. If all goes well, he likely would return for the start of a series against the Red Sox on July 17.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays