Saunders set to return in Minors game on Thursday

Santiago out 10 weeks after breaking left collarbone on Sunday

Saunders set to return in Minors game on Thursday

TAMPA, Fla. -- Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders is tentatively scheduled to appear in a Minor League game on Thursday morning.

Saunders will get the start at designated hitter, but will not run the bases. He was originally scheduled to make his spring debut on Tuesday, but the Blue Jays decided it would be in everyone's best interests to not rush things.

The 28-year-old hasn't appeared in a game since he underwent surgery to remove 60 percent of the meniscus from his left knee. There's a chance he could be ready by Opening Day, but that will depend on how he looks at the plate over the next couple of weeks.

"He's doing well," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Every time I see him, he always knows I'm going to ask him just to make sure he doesn't take any chances and he assures me that if he's not ready with his timing, he'll take a few more days just to get the timing. I think from a health standpoint, he's going to end up being there. He hasn't had a Spring Training, so it'll be at-bats."

In other injury news, infielder Ramon Santiago is expected to miss the next 10 weeks because of a broken left collarbone. Santiago sustained the injury while making a diving catch during Sunday's split-squad game against the Braves.

Santiago appeared to be the favorite to win the backup infielder's job. The Blue Jays will now audition Ryan Goins, Steve Tolleson and to a lesser extent Munenori Kawasaki for that role with Maicer Izturis the frontrunner to win the starting job at second base.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.