PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen began his rehab assignment with Double-A New Hampshire on Monday night by tossing one scoreless inning.
Janssen has yet to pitch in the Major Leagues this season because of a strained oblique muscle. He allowed a pair of singles and also induced two groundouts and a pop fly for the Fisher Cats.
The veteran right-hander is expected to make at least a couple of more appearances in the Minor Leagues before the Blue Jays consider bringing him back. The original plan was for Janssen to make five rehab appearances, but manager John Gibbons admitted earlier this week it might not take that long.
Janssen would provide a major upgrade to Toronto's bullpen, which has been reeling for the past two weeks. Sergio Santos began the year as Toronto's interim closer, but recently lost the job after blowing three save opportunities and being charged with a pair of losses.
In Toronto's last 17 games entering play Monday, the bullpen has lost a lead of two-plus runs on seven occasions. Dating back to the second game of a doubleheader in Minnesota on April 17, Toronto's relievers have combined to allow 41 earned runs on 56 hits and 33 walks over the course of 50 1/3 innings.
Navarro optimistic he'll start Wednesday
PHILADELPHIA -- Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro is optimistic that he'll be able to make his return to the starting lineup for Wednesday's game vs. the Phillies.
Navarro has been out of action since Thursday night when he sustained a minor right quad injury while running the bases in Kansas City. He has been available to pinch-hit, but has yet to get behind the plate since the injury.
The Blue Jays hope Navarro will be able to resume his defensive duties when left-hander Mark Buehrle takes the mound against Philadelphia. Buehrle has exclusively worked with Navarro this season, and Toronto would like to avoid breaking that pair up.
"The biggest test is when we go out there, start running and see how it feels," Navarro said. "Probably when I start playing again, there's going to be some discomfort, but I'm going to deal with it. We'll see, we're heading in the right direction."
Navarro has already undergone a variety of mobility tests and various forms of treatment and said his right leg feels much better than it did late last week. The big test will come when Navarro starts running on the field, which is expected to happen Tuesday afternoon.
If all goes well during that running test, Navarro will make his return the following day. That seemed like an unlikely prognosis on Sunday afternoon when he entered the game vs. Pittsburgh as a pinch-hitter during the eighth inning. Navarro hit an RBI single, but seemed to barely make it down the line before he was lifted for a pinch-runner.
According to Navarro, that was all part of the plan. He was being extra cautious, because he didn't want to risk aggravating his quad before it had almost completely healed.
"If I hit a ground ball somewhere, I would have gone a little bit faster, but I knew I wasn't going to get to second, so might as well take an extra day. It felt like I didn't do anything yesterday," Navarro said.
"It wasn't that bad. I know it looked bad on TV, but it wasn't that bad. I knew the ball was over the third baseman's head, the run scored, the guy was going to get to third. I talked to [manager John Gibbons] about it, and he said, 'Do whatever you have to do.' And, like I said, if I hit a ground ball, I wouldn't have gone that slow."
With Lind close to return, Toronto faces decisions
PHILADELPHIA -- The Blue Jays will have to make a series of tough roster decisions when Adam Lind makes his return to the lineup later this week.
Lind, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore lower back, began a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Sunday afternoon. He could be back with Toronto as soon as Wednesday, and by the latest, this weekend vs. the Angels.
Before Lind returns, the Blue Jays must decide what to do with Juan Francisco. The 26-year-old corner infielder has done an admirable job of filling in during Lind's absence and has proven himself to be a valuable commodity.
"It's a little bit of a logjam, because we like what Francisco is doing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Can't take a chance, I wouldn't think, of letting Francisco go. Somebody's gotta grab him, he's too valuable."
Francisco entered play on Monday night hitting .277 with three homers and six RBIs in 13 games this season. He's best suited as a designated hitter, but Francisco has held his own during a handful of games at first and third base.
The Dominican native doesn't have any options remaining on his contract and cannot be sent to the Minors without passing through waivers. That means the Blue Jays will need to find a way to keep him on the 25-man roster. One possibility would be eliminating one reliever from the eight-man bullpen and using Francisco as a bat off the bench.
Another possibility would be moving Brett Lawrie to second base on a more permanent basis. Lawrie has been playing second during Interleague action to get Francisco's bat into the lineup at third base. It was originally supposed to be a short-term move, but might be something Toronto has to think about after Francisco's hot start.
"He strikes fear into you, makes us stronger," Gibbons said of Francisco.