Blue Jays Injury News: Michael Saunders to start rehab assignment

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The great news keeps rolling in for the Toronto Blue Jays on the injury front. One day after hearing that Marcus Stroman was pushing to return from ACL surgery by September, the Blue Jays sent out word that left fielder Michael Saunders would be heading to Dunedin to begin his rehab assignment, according to Shi Davidi and Mike Wilner of Sportsnet.

Saunders has been out of action since the fourth day of camp, when stepped on a sprinkler head while shagging flyballs in the outfield in the practice fields. Initial expectations was that the injury would cost Saunders the first half of the season, with surgery likely keeping him out of action until at least the All-Star Break. However, the tear was to the point where repair was not possible and Saunders had it removed instead. While that doesn’t bear well for his long-term health with his knee, it did shorten the expected return time for the outfielder to April.

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As Wilner notes, Michael Saunders will be playing left field immediately and will not have any restrictions once he steps onto the field for Single-A Dunedin on Thursday. That’s a significant improvement given that Saunders was held to swinging a bat and running on a treadmill this past weekend, according to Wilner.

The length of the rehab assignment will most likely be equally tied to his performance on the field as it is to his health. After missing all of Spring Training, the left fielder may need more reps than normal to get into game shape. That seems to hold true to what Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com is reporting, with Saunders likely headed for a return when the Blue Jays open at home on Monday the 13th.

To get to that point, Saunder could appear in a couple of games in Dunedin on Thursday and Friday, then make the trek to New Hampshire for a weekend series with the Fisher Cats or Rochester, NY to appear with the Buffalo Bisons for a few days.

That all said, the Blue Jays are not going to be in any rush to bring him along too quickly. Kevin Pillar is handling the duties in left field in Saunders’ absence and went 2-4 with a runs scored and a stolen base in the Opening Day win over the Yankees. Pillar will likely spell Saunders on occasion upon his activation, allowing him to ease back into action, especially after games return to the turf in Rogers Centre.

Next: Fisher Cats Opening Series Preview

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