TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will look to complete their first sweep of the season without Jose Bautista.
The slugging right fielder was sidelined for a second straight game on Thursday night against the Orioles with a strained right shoulder, but manager John Gibbons remained optimistic that Bautista would avoid a trip to the disabled list. Gibbons indicated there's a chance Bautista could sit out this weekend's three-game set against the Rays in St. Petersburg, though he doesn't expect him to miss more time than that.
"I don't think we're going to have to DL him, he's feeling much better today," Gibbons said. "Maybe it's only a couple more days. When he comes back, it'll be primarily as a DH for a few days."
Bautista, who had been dealing with shoulder soreness for about a week, said he aggravated the injury when he attempted to throw out Delmon Young at first base during the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener. Gibbons said he's hopeful Bautista's absence coincides with the return of outfielder Michael Saunders, who's close to joining the team after opening the season on the disabled list with a torn left meniscus.
"Saunders is probably going to come back this weekend, anyways," Gibbons said. "So it's perfect timing."
Saunders, who's completing a rehab assignment with the team's Class A affiliate, will join Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey in the outfield until Bautista's healthy enough to throw without discomfort.
Gibbons said Justin Smoak would likely be the odd man out of the lineup while Bautista assumes DH duties and Edwin Encarnacion handles first base.
Dan Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.