It’s hard to believe that a team currently on a nine-game winning streak is not quite at full strength, but such is the case with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, the team looks like it is about to regain some of that strength.
Per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet a couple of infielders are set to begin the return to Toronto, with Steve Tolleson beginning a rehab assignment on Friday night and Devon Travis likely to start his own next week.
The status of the two helps to explain why the Blue Jays opted to send down Munenori Kawasaki and run with an eight-man bullpen for the time being. Tolleson, who has been out with a slight groin strain since May 27th, started his rehab assignment with Single-A Dunedin on Thursday and was moved to Triple-A Buffalo for the weekend series against the Charlotte Knights. That would put him on schedule to return to Toronto at some point next week. Tolleson had appeared in 19 games before landing on the DL, slashing .268/.333/.439 over 41 at-bats.
Devon Travis may be a bit longer in returning. Yes, he’s going on rehab this coming week, but he’s also been out of action since May 16th and was originally slated to return to the Blue Jays after the minimum amount of time on the DL. However, his shoulder started barking again during his original rehab assignment and the Blue Jays were forced to shut him down for over an additional week in order to make sure that pain had truly subsided and that he could swing a bat without experiencing any additional setbacks.
The Blue Jays want to make sure their future second baseman is fully healthy and ready to resume his assault on the American League Rookie of the Year race. Travis was hitting a robust .325/.393/.625 with six home runs and 19 RBI at the end of April. However, a bad hop on a ground ball and the resulting shoulder injury led to a severe drop-off in May, when Travis stumbled to a .185/.241/.315 mark. Despite the time off, Travis still ranks third in home runs, second in RBI, and third in OPS among American League rookies.
Having Travis back in the fold would only deepen an already explosive Blue Jays offense. Toronto has outscored all other teams in baseball by 60 runs on the season and have the second-best run differential in the game. They’ve used that offensive explosion and the rebound of their pitching staff to run off nine straight wins and climb within two games of the Yankees for first place in the American League East.