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Grichuk returns, expects to be ready by OD

Oh makes Grapefruit League debut with flawless frame; Pearce bats in Minors game
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Randal Grichuk has turned a corner in his rehab from a strained rib cage, and the rush is on to get ready for Opening Day.

Grichuk made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup for their 7-7 tie with the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. The 26-year-old went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first spring game since March 9.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Randal Grichuk has turned a corner in his rehab from a strained rib cage, and the rush is on to get ready for Opening Day.

Grichuk made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup for their 7-7 tie with the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. The 26-year-old went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first spring game since March 9.

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There were noticeable signs of rust, as Grichuk was late on a lot of pitches and hit a pair of weak popups to the right side. That's to be expected with so few at-bats this spring, and the only real cure is more repetition. With a week to go before Opening Day, the Blue Jays think there's enough time.

"Honestly, just getting my timing back," Grichuk said. "I felt like I did a pretty good job of not swinging at pitches in the dirt or out of the zone today. But I got beat a little bit on a few fastballs that I shouldn't have gotten beat [on]. There were some positives and there were some negatives. We'll take the positives and go to work again tomorrow."

Tweet from @BlueJays: 💪 Randal's return. 💪 pic.twitter.com/zU6nW8vZSI

Grichuk's spring hit a speedbump in late February when he was sidelined with a sprained left wrist. He eventually returned for four games before the rib issue surfaced on March 9, and as a result Grichuk has appeared in just eight games this spring while receiving 21 at-bats. Not exactly a lot of playing time, but there are seven days to go until Opening Day.

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Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Grichuk will be in the lineup on Thursday, but the plan beyond that is still a little unclear. Grichuk likely will get into a couple more games over the weekend with at least one appearance during next week's two-game exhibition series in Montreal also expected.

"They're still managing how many swings I take in the cages and that aspect," Grichuk said. "But game, practice, I did a full day."

Return of the Oh
Right-hander Seung Hwan Oh made his spring debut on Wednesday with a scoreless inning. Oh was flawless and possibly even a little too good, as he only needed seven pitches to get through a three-up, three-down fifth inning.

Oh retired Maikel Franco to lead off the inning with a popup, then got Carlos Santana to ground out and Aaron Altherr to strike out in the easy frame. Oh has been throwing bullpen sessions all spring, but Wednesday marked his first official appearance in a spring game because of a work visa issue.

Video: Atkins pleased to add Oh to Blue Jays bullpen

"More than the result, I felt pretty good out there and stuff was coming out pretty good, so I was happy with that," Oh said through a translator. "The live bullpen and BP sessions helped me a lot to get to this stage to get me ready for the season. Just have to go back and continue doing what I've been doing so far."

Injury update
Left fielder Steve Pearce was moved over to the Minor League side of Spring Training on Wednesday so he could hit every inning. Pearce was out earlier this spring with a strained left calf muscle but recently returned to the Toronto lineup. His appearance in a Minor League exhibition game was a one-off to work on timing, and all signs point to Pearce being ready for Opening Day.

"Get as many at-bats as he wants or needs and then he'll play the next couple of days over here," Gibbons said. "He's been having good at-bats, even with that long layoff."

Video: TOR@BOS: Pearce cranks RBI double to drive in Gudino

Up next
Jaime Garcia will make his final start of the Grapefruit League season when the Blue Jays play a split-squad game against the Rays on Thursday afternoon at 1:07 p.m. ET at Dunedin Stadium. Listen to the game via an exclusive audio webcast. Garcia has one spring outing remaining after this game, but it will come in an exhibition matchup vs. the Cardinals in Montreal. Toronto also has a split-squad game against the Pirates on Thursday night, which right-hander Joe Biagini will start at 6:05 p.m. Watch this game on MLB.TV.

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, Randal Grichuk, Seung Hwan Oh