TORONTO -- Right-hander Danny Barnes is one step closer to making his return to the Blue Jays as he's set to begin a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday.Barnes has been out since June 21 with tendinitis in his left knee. He recently began throwing live batting
TORONTO -- Right-hander Danny Barnes is one step closer to making his return to the Blue Jays as he's set to begin a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday.
Barnes has been out since June 21 with tendinitis in his left knee. He recently began throwing live batting practice at the Blue Jays' Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., and is now ready for the next step in his recovery process.
The timing of Barnes' imminent return works out well for the Blue Jays, who are expected to shop some of their veteran relievers before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Seunghwan Oh, John Axford and Tyler Clippard should be made available, but there are a lot of relievers on the market so it's not immediately clear how easy it will be for Toronto general manager Ross Atkins to orchestrate a trade.
Barnes spent most of last season as one of Toronto's top setup man, but it has been a difficult 2018 campaign. He owns a 4.60 ERA over 29 1/3 innings while striking out 27 and walking 17.
Osuna moves up
Roberto Osuna has been moved up another level as he continues to work out in advance of a possible Aug. 5 return date from a 75-game suspension handed down for violating the joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy.
Osuna was promoted from Class A Advanced Dunedin to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday afternoon. He has made three appearances in the Minors so far this season, and he has allowed two hits over three scoreless innings while striking out two. Osuna is expected to continue working out with the Bisons until he is eligible to return during the August series in Seattle.
• Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar played catch prior to Monday's series opener against the Twins. Pillar, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint, is out of a sling and has started to go through range-of-motion exercises and light baseball activities. He is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
• Right-hander Marco Estrada will make a rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. Estrada originally was scheduled to start for Double-A New Hampshire on Monday, but his flight was canceled forcing the Blue Jays to make alternate plans. Estrada hasn't pitched since July 3 because of a strained glute muscle, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons still hasn't ruled out a possible return this weekend in Chicago.
"Not sure, he might be all right still," Gibbons said when asked if Estrada was ruled out for the White Sox series. "He'll probably be about 60 pitches [for Buffalo], something like that. We haven't talked through that yet. We'll see how he comes out of this."
Gurriel getting reps
Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was out taking early ground balls at second base on Monday afternoon despite getting the start at shortstop. The 24-year-old has been splitting his time in the big leagues between both spots, and while the lack of a permanent position can make things even more challenging for an inexperienced rookie, it's not an approach the club is looking to change any time soon.
"It's probably not ideal, but we're trying to take a look, too, to see where he's stronger," Gibbons said. "That's never easy, but with Aledmys Diaz being the shortstop here, we thought about maybe flipping Diaz, letting him play a little bit of second base along the way, but we haven't approached anybody about that yet. It's not ideal, but guys have to do it sometimes to figure out who you are and what you are."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.