Pillar to undergo MRI on oblique strain Saturday

Encarnacion takes BP, targeting next week for return to action

Pillar to undergo MRI on oblique strain Saturday

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Pillar is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday to determine how much his strained oblique has improved over the past week.

Pillar sustained the injury late last week while sneezing. He was temporarily shut down from baseball related activities and has been waiting for approval to get back on the field.

"He's moving around good, he feels good, he could probably be playing now, but it's one of those things that you want to make sure, because if it flares up again, that could be a long-term deal," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The doc will check him, and hopefully by the beginning of the week he's back in there."

Pillar is expected to start in left field until Michael Saunders is ready to return from a left knee injury. If Saunders returns by Opening Day, Pillar likely would begin the year as the fourth outfielder while also potentially splitting time in center with Dalton Pompey.

In other injury news, Edwin Encarnacion took batting practice on Friday morning for the first time since suffering a lower back injury earlier this month. He's expected to continue taking BP over the weekend and could possibly return to action early next week.

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.