Injury updates: Stroman, Donaldson, Pearce

June 19th, 2018

TORONTO -- Right-hander has completed his rehab assignment, and the 27-year-old is set to rejoin the Blue Jays' starting rotation later this week.

Toronto has yet to announce when Stroman will officially return but he's expected to be on the mound this weekend against the Angels. Stroman likely will replace right-hander Sam Gaviglio in the rotation, whose next turn was set for Saturday in Anaheim.

Stroman was scheduled to start for Double-A New Hampshire on Monday night, but the Fisher Cats' game was postponed because of rain. The product of Duke instead threw 75 pitches in a simulated game before receiving final clearance to return to the Blue Jays. Stroman has been out since May 8 because of a right shoulder injury and what the club also described as a period of mental rest.

"He seemed upbeat and he seemed like his old self," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

The news still isn't quite as promising for injured third baseman Josh Donaldson, who remains out with a sore left calf. Donaldson hasn't played since May 28, but according to the club, his "running is improving in intensity each session." Donaldson continues to take batting practice and field ground balls but the Blue Jays will not activate him until he is able to run the bases at full speed without any issues.

Donaldson is expected to require a brief rehab assignment in the Minors before returning. A stint in Triple-A Buffalo likely would only be for one game, but if it doesn't happen on Wednesday then it would appear as though Donaldson will be out for at least the start of a four-game series against the Angels.

Left fielder Steve Pearce appears to be nearing a return after he hit a three-run homer for Buffalo on Tuesday afternoon. Pearce played five innings in left field for the first time since he hit the DL with a strained oblique muscle on May 3. He previously made two starts at DH and is batting 4-for-8 on his current rehab assignment. Pearce could return as soon as the Angels series.

Gurriel returns

The Blue Jays recalled infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from Buffalo prior to Tuesday night's game against Atlanta. A spot on the 25-man roster was temporarily created when Gaviglio was placed on paternity leave. Gaviglio departed the team after his start on Sunday to attend the birth of his child.

Gaviglio is permitted to remain on the paternity list for three games. Gurriel's stint with the Blue Jays will be a short one, but Gibbons said he was added to the roster because of his versatility and to give the club another speed option off the bench. Gurriel appeared in 20 games with Toronto earlier this season and hit .206/.229/.309.

When Gaviglio does return, he will be facing an uncertain future. Stroman is set to take his spot in the rotation, but there remains a possibility Gaviglio will be used as a long reliever instead of being optioned to the Minors. Toronto currently has an eight-man bullpen.

"I think he would be really good [in the bullpen]," Gibbons said. "His first two outings here came out of the 'pen and he looked really good. Yeah, that would be an option. I don't know what's going to happen but he would be good down there. We've seen him good down there."

Anthopoulos back in town

Former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos returned to Rogers Centre on Tuesday afternoon for the first time since taking the job with Atlanta this offseason. Anthopoulos became the Braves' new GM this winter after spending two years working for the Dodgers as vice president of baseball operations.

Since arriving in Atlanta, Anthopoulos has begun to implement a few of the same strategies he used in Toronto from 2009-15. Similarly to how Anthopoulos handled 19-year-old in '15, he did not hesitate making early calls this year by promoting top prospects and Tuesday's starter . At least part of the decisions was made based on a few things he learned while in Toronto.

"I look back all of the time," Anthopoulos said. "The successes, the mistakes made. Soroka is 20 years old, people talk about age and things like that, we had a need, we needed a starter against the Mets, they were in first place at the time, it was on the road. ... We didn't care about his age. We didn't care about the number of starts. He was clearly our best chance to win the game. You don't worry about the service time, the Super 2, free agency or those types of things.

"Could he have been well served to have another 10 starts down there? Sure. But we didn't think it was going to be a harm to be out there. Obviously I know there are some things going on off the field, but you look at Osuna being up here, he had great success. He had great success for a long time and he was a big part of this team and did great things. I don't think you can just have a set number in age, or a set number in innings, I just don't think it works that way. Everybody is totally different, totally unique."