Sanchez throws pain-free from flat ground

Righty recovering from lat strain; return in mid-July likely

Sanchez throws pain-free from flat ground

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez played catch Monday morning for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list, but there is still no timetable for his return.

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Sanchez threw 25 pitches off flat ground from 60 feet and said he didn't feel any pain. The rookie starter hasn't thrown off a mound since June 5 because of a strained lat.

Toronto doesn't need a fifth starter until June 30 because of Thursday's off-day. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he wouldn't "expect" Sanchez to be ready by that date, and it would appear as though a more realistic date would be around the middle of July.

"It just kind of lingered around, didn't really feel anything coming off the mound," Sanchez said of the original injury. "The next couple of days, the soreness I had just wasn't going away.

"I thought it was just regular normal soreness that I've always had that lingered around. When I started playing catch, it was coming back. It's one of those things where I felt like not playing catch was helping it."

With each day that Sanchez goes without pitching off a mound, it increases the likelihood that he'll need to make at least one or two rehab starts before returning. That likely would keep Sanchez from returning until after the All-Star break, but the organization isn't committing to a date.

Sanchez also said he wasn't sure of the next steps in his rehab program. He's awaiting word from the organization, but that he's throwing pain-free is a major step in the right direction.

"That's out of my control, I don't have any control on what their plan is for me," said Sanchez, who is 5-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts this year. "We'll see how things work out this week and how I feel. The main thing for me is I want to continue to get healthy, I don't want any setbacks, so if that means we've got to take it slow, then we have to."

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