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Blue Jays seeing progress from Tulo, early return coming?

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It’s been a month of surprise injury returns for the Blue Jays, and Troy Tulowitzki could be following the lead of Marcus Stroman. According to Mike Johnston of Sportsnet, manager John Gibbons threw some unexpected optimism into the situation this afternoon while appearing on Baseball Central with Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker.

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“I don’t know if it’s overly optimistic but maybe (he could return) sometime in that Baltimore series, but I guess that’s possible,” Gibbons said. “I’m definitely hoping maybe by Tampa. That’s all we have left, really.” Gibbons added that Tulowitzki would be putting in some work during the off day. “He’s moving in the right direction. We’ll see. It’s one of those things, he’s getting better but you can’t put a date on it. It’s one of those kinds of deals.”

Crystal clear, Gibby! This could develop into the ideal situation for Tulowitzki and the Blue Jays, as a potential return before the final series of the season would allow him to get in 10-to-15 at bats prior to the playoffs beginning. Not much, but it’s something.

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“When I first got this injury I was in a lot of pain, but as the days have gone on the pain’s died down. I feel better each and every day,” Tulowitzki had told Ben Nicholson-Smith earlier in the week, and that trend appears to have continued. The organization will continue to proceed with caution, of course, but these are encouraging signs in a return that will be dictated largely by pain management.

The final hurdle for Tulowitzki to clear is likely with the bat, where the quick torque of a swing will test the strength of his left shoulder. In a dream world, the Blue Jays would return Tulowitzki to their lineup for one or two games as a DH against the Baltimore Orioles before giving him time back at shortstop in the final series at Tampa Bay.

Tulowitzki’s early return would also give the Jays some valuable flexibility towards the bottom of their playoff roster, likely pushing Munenori Kawasaki off the final 25 with Cliff Pennington surviving as the backup middle infielder. Gibbons and Anthopoulos could then be more selective with their bullpen and pitching rotation, or lean more heavily towards a speed or power threat off the bench. If you’re Dalton Pompey, Ezequiel Carrera, Aaron Loup, Josh Thole or even Matt Hague, this could be some very good news.

Next: How should Blue Jays handle Smoak, Colabello in playoffs?

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