TOR@KC: Reyes suffers injury on slide at second base

ARLINGTON -- Jose Reyes is one step closer to making his long-awaited return to the Major Leagues after he played in a simulated game Friday morning.

Reyes played two innings in the field and registered three at-bats in his first game appearance since severely spraining his left ankle April 12 in Kansas City.

The four-time All-Star also went through some sliding drills after the game and is expected to appear in his first official rehab game Monday for Class-A Dunedin.

"It's a pretty good injury, so we have to ease him into it, too," manager John Gibbons said. "He can do all of those drills on the field, but it's still not like reacting in a game. It'll be a build-up thing, but the hitting and timing at the plate is important, too."

One thing the Blue Jays want to avoid is rushing Reyes back before he is ready to handle a full workload at the big league level. Earlier in the season, the club prematurely brought back third baseman Brett Lawrie from an oblique injury, and his production suffered at the plate as a result.

The move with Lawrie was understandable at the time because the club desperately needed his defense. Maicer Izturis was struggling at the position, and the Blue Jays were giving opposing teams a lot of extra outs.

There is a big need to have Reyes back as well, but not if it means his hitting will suffer. The Blue Jays need to make sure he has his timing down before being forced to face some of the league's elite pitchers.

"We want to be fair to the guy, but Reyes has been playing the game for so long that it's a little bit different," Gibbons said when asked to compare the two situations. "Brett's still trying to establish himself with a long career, whereas Jose has been an All-Star for a number of years.

"We definitely needed Brett to fill that spot; we were really struggling over there, but Jose we're going to make sure he's good to go."

Gibbons estimated that Reyes would be ready after appearing in games for two weeks. That would see the Dominican native return during a series at Fenway in late June, but he could join the club just before that for a series in Tampa Bay from June 24-26.

Johnson's start pushed back a second time

TOR@SF: JJ returns from injury with six strikeouts

ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Josh Johnson's next scheduled outing was pushed back another day because of a blister on his right middle finger.

Johnson was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday against Texas, but he had that start pushed back Thursday. On Friday it was moved yet again to give the pending free agent a little more time to recover.

The 29-year-old Johnson will now take the mound for a series opener against Colorado on Monday night at Rogers Centre.

"They want to try and let it completely heal so it doesn't become a problem," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The thing is, too, that down here, as hot as it is and sweating all of the time, you might make it worse."

The Blue Jays can ill afford to lose Johnson for any extended period of time. He recently returned after a six-week absence with inflammation in his right triceps muscle, and the club is without fellow starters Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ.

Despite sustaining two setbacks in as many days, Gibbons sounded confident when asked if Johnson would finally be able to pitch Monday. The delay has been described as precautionary, and there does not seem to be any concern that it will require his start to be skipped entirely.

If Johnson does make his start, it will be welcome news for a pitcher who is still searching for his first win of the year 66 games into its season.

"It irritated him a little bit playing catch yesterday, so we figured, you know what, with the rainout [in Chicago] everyone can go on their normal rest anyways," Gibbons said.

"It just makes sense to push him back; get up there in the cool climate of [Toronto]."

Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will now make Sunday's outing on regular rest. He was originally scheduled to pitch Monday against the Rockies.

Blue Jays expect Morrow's rehab phase to be brief

SEA@TOR: Morrow strikes out eight over eight strong

ARLINGTON -- Brandon Morrow is scheduled to make the first start of his rehab assignment for Class A Dunedin on Monday night.

Toronto's No. 2 starter is on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right forearm. He threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Friday and did not feel any ill effects, so he has been cleared for the next step of his eventual return to the big leagues.

There is not a clearly defined timetable for Morrow's return, but the tentative plan does not include a lengthy rehab.

"We'll see how that first one goes," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't know what they'll limit him too, but I would think two [starts] max."

If Morrow does require just two rehab starts, he will most likely return before the end of June. He has been out since exiting a start against the Braves on May 28 because of lingering discomfort in his forearm.

The 28-year-old is 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts this season. He missed time earlier in the year with discomfort in his upper back and neck area.

Worth noting

• Two young Blue Jays pitchers are making progress in their recovery from last year's Tommy John surgeries. Right-hander Drew Hutchison threw live batting practice for the final time Friday and is scheduled to throw two innings of a simulated game Tuesday. Right-hander Kyle Drabek is making similar progress and is also scheduled to throw two innings of an intrasquad game early next week.

• Third baseman Lawrie had his sprained left ankle examined Friday morning and was expected to be out of his walking boot very soon. There is still plenty of rehab work to be done before the club has a better idea of when he will be back to full strength.

• Right-hander Sergio Santos threw long toss Friday morning and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday or Wednesday. Toronto's right-handed reliever has been out since April 13 with a right triceps strain and is on the 60-day disabled list.