ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss at least another week because of a problematic left calf muscle that has kept him out of the lineup since May 28.
Donaldson has been considered day to day for the better part of two weeks but he still has to pass a series of running drills before the three-time All-Star will be cleared for a return to the field.
Once Donaldson receives final clearance, he is expected to begin a brief rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. That is unlikely to happen this weekend or at the start of next week, when Toronto has a three-game series against the Astros. The earliest date for Donaldson's return would appear to be June 29 for a home game against the Tigers.
"I wouldn't think so, but I don't know for sure," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked about Donaldson's availability for the Houston series, which starts Monday. "I hope by the time we get home."
Donaldson has been limited to 36 games this season because of the calf issue and a right shoulder injury that plagued him earlier in the year. The native of Florida is batting .234/.333/.423 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in limited action.
Pearce returns, Barnes departs
Left fielder Steve Pearce made a triumphant return to the Blue Jays' lineup during Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Angels by going 3-for-4 with a double. Pearce was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to the game after he fully recovered from a strained oblique muscle that had sidelined him since May 3.
Pearce recently completed a four-game rehab assignment with Buffalo, where he had four hits in 11 at-bats, including a three-run homer. His first game back in the big leagues brought the same amount of success at the plate.
"It felt comfortable," Pearce said of his return. "That was the whole plan, when I was in Triple-A, just find a way to get comfortable and just bring that up here. Fortunately that happened."
To make room for Pearce on the 25-man roster, Toronto placed right-hander Danny Barnes on the 10-day DL with left knee tendinitis. Barnes tossed two-thirds of an inning in Thursday night's 8-5 loss and he allowed one run after walking three batters and allowing one hit. The move means the Blue Jays are back to a seven-man bullpen.
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio also made his return to the Blue Jays on Friday after being away on paternity leave for the previous three games. Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was optioned to Buffalo to make room on the 25-man roster. Gaviglio was available out of the bullpen on Friday night, but did not have to pitch and he remains the favorite to start Sunday.
"Good to see Pearcey," Gibbons said. "It's been a while. They said he was playing pretty good down there ... Pearcey can hit. He can really hit left-handers, but you don't mind him against righties, either. I think we missed him when he was gone, no doubt."
Sanchez still 'tender'
Gibbons said right-hander Aaron Sanchez's right index finger is still a little "tender" after he was forced to leave Thursday night's start after one inning because of a contusion on his knuckle. Sanchez declined to say how the injury occurred but he admitted that it took place away from the field and that his finger had swollen up quite a bit.
The Blue Jays still aren't sure whether Sanchez will be able to make his next start and his availability will have repercussions for the rest of the rotation. Right-hander Marcus Stroman is set to come off the DL prior to Saturday night's game, which means the Blue Jays have to remove a member of the current starting five.
Toronto was in the process of choosing between Gaviglio and veteran lefty Jaime Garcia for the final starting job when Sanchez went down. If Sanchez has to miss a start, then the other two pitchers likely will remain where they are, but Gibbons said that Sunday's starter remained to be determined.
"It's tender," Gibbons said of Sanchez. "We'll see how that develops the next couple of days."