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Reyes to return today; Kawasaki optioned

CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays finally have their leadoff man back in the fold as Jose Reyes is set to make his return on Saturday afternoon.

Reyes was activated from the 15-day disabled list following Friday night's 3-2 win over the Indians. In order to make room on the 25-man roster, Toronto optioned infielder Munenori Kawasaki to the Minor Leagues.

The 30-year-old Reyes had been on the DL since he suffered a strained left hamstring during his first at-bat of the season. He spent the past four days on a rehab assignment in Florida and appeared in two official games with Class A Advanced Dunedin.

"He's going to be good to go," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's coming, he's ready to go and he'll be in there."

Reyes didn't have a hit in six at-bats with Dunedin, but walked three times and scored three runs. The biggest test came in the field and the first few steps out of the batter's box, and in both cases he came away feeling healthy.

The end result of Reyes' injury is that he missed a total of 15 games. He was technically eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, but the fact that Reyes required only a couple of additional days to prepare is very positive news for the Blue Jays, considering hamstring injuries often linger for an extended period of time.

Reyes will have to continue monitoring his legs, and it seems unlikely that he will be a major threat to steal bases at least through the month of April, but the organization claims he'll be playing without limitations. Gibbons confirmed that Reyes will be in the lineup both Saturday and Sunday before the entire team enjoys an off-day on Monday.

"It's big, he's a big part of our team," Gibbons said of Reyes' return. "The other guys have held their own and done a nice job for us. But he's a key part of our offence."

Kawasaki is the odd-man out as the Blue Jays have decided to go with Ryan Goins as their starting second baseman. Jonathan Diaz also remained with the team, as he'll back up the middle infield positions and also potentially see some time in the outfield depending on the situation.

Toronto purchased the contract of Kawasaki from Buffalo on April 13. He appeared in three games with the Blue Jays and played a pivotal role in Friday night's win over the Indians by hitting an RBI single during the seventh inning.

The move wasn't necessarily an easy one to make, but Gibbons said after the game that Kawasaki handled it well.

"Like a pro that he is," Gibbons said. "He said, 'I'm always ready.' It doesn't matter where he's playing, but he belongs in the big leagues and he's a big part of our team. He'll be back, he'll be back."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
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