Tulowitzki begins Minor League rehab stint

June 16th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays' shortstop Troy Tulowitzki began his rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Thursday night as he continues to make his way back from a sore right quad.

Tulowitzki went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his first official rehab game. He got the start at shortstop and played until he was lifted for a defensive replacement in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Tulowitzki previously received four at-bats in an intrasquad game the day before and then was cleared to take the next step.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said earlier in the day that he did not know how many games Tulowitzki would need before returning but there seems to be a chance he could rejoin the big-league team at some point this weekend in Baltimore.

"We'll have to see how each day goes," Gibbons said when asked about Tulowitzki's return. "He'll determine that."

Tulowitzki has been out since May 27 because of the leg injury. Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins have filled in during his absence after Devon Travis took over the everyday duties at second base. Tulowitzki is batting .204 with eight home runs, 23 RBIs and a .673 OPS in 46 games for the Blue Jays this season.

Storen settling in

Blue Jays reliever Drew Storen has been struggling through a difficult season but there have been some positive signs of late. The veteran right-hander has not allowed a run over his last four appearances while striking out four and scattering one hit with a pair of walks.

The former closer's ERA has dropped from 6.98 to 5.79 over that span. Three of those outings came in low-leverage situations with the game basically decided but considering the way things started it's still something he can build from.

Storen has not yet reclaimed his set-up role with the club but he appears to be slowly regaining the confidence of Gibbons.

"He looks much, much better, he really does," Gibbons said. "Two outings ago he struck out the side on 10 pitches. Last night, a big strikeout to work out of a jam.

"There was no secret that his velocity is down and he's not used to that. You really have to change your approach and I think he got into a bit of a rut where he was scattering the ball a little bit more than he's used to. Maybe overthrowing a little bit."

Saunders back in, Carrera out

Left fielder Michael Saunders made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Thursday after missing one game because of a tight hamstring. The injury was never considered serious and Saunders was never expected to miss much time but the club wanted to take a cautious approach to avoid any kind of setback.

Saunders immediately made his presence felt with a solo home run to right field during his first at-bat of Toronto's 13-2 win over the Phillies. The solo shot was his 12th home run of the season and it followed a two-run shot by Edwin Encarnacion. That marked the fifth time this season Toronto had back-to-back home runs.

Ezequiel Carrera filled in during Saunders' brief absence but he was unavailable to play Thursday because of a sore right ankle. Carrera aggravated his ankle during his final at-bat during Wednesday's 7-2 victory over the Phillies but it's not immediately clear how much time he will need to recover.