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Estrada improving, but not ready to return

MLB.com @gregorMLB

BOSTON -- Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada will be out until at least after the All-Star break because of a strained left glute.

Estrada threw a side session in Atlanta on Wednesday, and although team officials insisted the 35-year-old "felt improvement," it was not enough to convince them to use him this weekend in Boston.

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BOSTON -- Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada will be out until at least after the All-Star break because of a strained left glute.

Estrada threw a side session in Atlanta on Wednesday, and although team officials insisted the 35-year-old "felt improvement," it was not enough to convince them to use him this weekend in Boston.

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The Blue Jays instead decided to rest him during this four-game series, and he will receive at least four more days off next week during the All-Star break. Despite the extended absence, Toronto has yet to place him on the disabled list, but that could still happen.

"It just makes no sense if he's not ready to go," manager John Gibbons said. "This close to the break, give him a [rest]. That way when he comes out of it, it's gone. He could have gone out there, but he probably would have labored through it. But it has nothing to do with his arm."

Estrada first felt some discomfort during a start against the Angels late last month. He made his next start and attempted to take the mound again on July 3, but that outing vs. the Mets was cut short after just 12 pitches because he was noticeably laboring.

The timing of the injury is far from ideal for a Blue Jays organization that will be looking to shop some of its assets before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Estrada was expected to be shopped alongside lefty J.A. Happ, relievers Tyler Clippard and Seunghwan Oh, possibly the injured Josh Donaldson and several other players on expiring contracts.

The Blue Jays have yet to announce who will take Estrada's spot in the rotation, but Gibbons hinted that instead of finding someone new, he might turn to right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who threw 48 pitches in a 9-5 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. Gaviglio would be an option to start on Saturday, but that would be a bit of a strange move considering he would be pitching on two days' rest.

If Toronto opts to dip into the Minors, the club could choose among Chris Rowley, Nick Tepesch or possibly even a prospect such as Thomas Pannone to make the spot start.

"We're throwing some things around," Gibbons said. "We could also bring Gaviglio back. He didn't throw too much yesterday. He could come back and throw a few innings anyway. We're just trying to figure some things out."

Injury updates

Reliever Ryan Tepera is expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment within the next couple of days. Tepera threw a bullpen session on Thursday afternoon and received final clearance to begin his return to the mound. He has been out since June 30 with inflammation in his right elbow and won't rejoin the Blue Jays until after the All-Star break.

Per Blue Jays officials, Donaldson is continuing his "running progression and field work" this week, but the club has yet to indicate when he might return to the field. Donaldson hasn't played since May 28 because of a sore left calf, and he has just five home runs and 16 RBIs in 36 games this season.

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (finger contusion) continues to throw long toss and is expected to throw a bullpen session at some point during this four-game set at Fenway Park. ... Lefty Jaime Garcia (tender left shoulder) was scheduled to throw one inning for Class A Advanced Dunedin on Thursday night. ... On Thursday, reliever Danny Barnes (left knee tendinitis) threw his second bullpen session since being hurt.

Minor League outfielder Dalton Pompey (thumb) was activated from the seven-day DL and assigned to Double-A New Hampshire. ... Prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (left knee) passed his follow-up tests and will begin his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. Toronto officials denied a recent media report that he is certain to be promoted to Buffalo upon his return. ... There continues to be no updates of any significance on the status of injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (foot surgery).

Davis moves up

Minor League outfielder Jonathan Davis received his long-awaited promotion from Double-A to Triple-A on Thursday afternoon. Davis, who is ranked Toronto's No. 28 prospect by MLB Pipeline, led all Eastern League players with 68 runs and was tied for second with 92 hits during his time with the Fisher Cats. He also was batting .302 with 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts to go along with 22 doubles.

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, Marco Estrada