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Santos hopes to return to Blue Jays in July

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos is optimistic that he'll be able to return around the All-Star break.

Santos has been on the disabled list since April 14 after experiencing continued discomfort in his right elbow. He later underwent surgery to have bone chips removed in the area and has been rehabbing at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., since.

The 29-year-old is scheduled to face live hitters for the first time on Friday. He then plans to appear in rehab games for Class A Dunedin on July 1, 4 and 7.

"It wasn't getting to the point where it could be manageable through a whole season," Santos said. "It wasn't where it needed to be. We went the route where we knew there were some bone spurs in there and it was just a matter of hopefully they weren't in a spot where they were affecting me, but unfortunately they were and we got them out of there."

Santos has been limited to just 11 games with the Blue Jays over the past two seasons. Most recently it was the elbow, but last year it was a right shoulder injury which prematurely ended his season in April.

The rash of injuries is one of the main reasons why Santos recently agreed to take part in the weighted-ball program that has been designed by Blue Jays consultant Jamie Evans. Steve Delabar, Casey Janssen and Brett Cecil all use the workout routine, which is designed to help build shoulder strength.

One of the main benefits of the program is increased velocity, but that's not something the hard-throwing Santos is concerned about. Instead, it's the potential for having an increased ability to bounce back from outings and hopefully avoid injuries that is most appealing.

Right-hander Dustin McGowan also joined the program earlier this season and was able to return to the big leagues after suffering multiple shoulder injuries in recent years. That opened Santos' eyes and he's hopeful that the injuries will now become a thing of the past, because it's been a frustrating time since he joined the Blue Jays in a 2011 offseason deal with the White Sox.

"I'll say this, it gets really frustrating," Santos said of his injury woes. "It gets really upsetting, because at the end of the day, all I want to do is be out there playing and, you know, I try to stay as positive and upbeat as I can, but there's definitely -- you have some days where I don't want to pick up a ball or do anything because you're just, it seems that you're so [angry].

"I'm kind of seeing that light at the end of the tunnel now to where I'm throwing bullpens, letting it go and there are no issues anywhere. I'm bouncing back fine, I'm long tossing on the days after I have my bullpens, so everything is going right."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, Sergio Santos