Tentative timetable has Tulo out 2-3 weeks

Blue Jays shortstop sidelined with cracked shoulder blade

Tentative timetable has Tulo out 2-3 weeks

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays are "cautiously optimistic" that Troy Tulowitzki will be able to return from a crack in his left shoulder blade in approximately two to three weeks.

Tulowitzki cracked his scapula during a collision with Kevin Pillar in shallow center field Saturday afternoon. The tentative time frame likely would have the star shortstop back on the field just before the end of the regular season, but there's no guarantee that will actually happen.

Toronto won't definitively know whether Tulowitzki can make it back for at least another week. His progress will be closely monitored, and not only does the bone have to heal, but some internal bleeding has to subside and the muscles need to recover.

"I think there is a chance," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Sunday morning. "Just talking to the doctors, they do think it is a little early to try to set a timetable on it.

"We'll know more in the next few days, but if they had to guess, and it really is only a guess at this point, could be two to three weeks and then he could be back for October. Hopefully we're playing at that time. That's really all we have, but we'll know more as the next few days come along."

The time frame for Tulowitzki's return is tentative at best because there aren't a lot of comparable situations. A cracked scapula is a very rare injury in baseball, and while the Blue Jays have begun doing research into the healing process, there isn't a lot of information to go on.

The injury is more common in football, and that's why the club's medical staff has already started to reach out to some organizations in the NFL. They intend to explore all treatment options, but more than anything else, a cracked scapula needs time to heal and even if Tulowitzki does return he's going to have to play through some pain.

Tulowitzki has heard all about the potential return date at the end of the month, but he's trying not to think about it for now. Instead, he'll remain with the club and try to remain as patient as possible while waiting for the healing process to start.

"I don't want to put a time frame on myself because I know myself and if I do that, I'm going to be itching at the bit," Tulowitzki said. "If I do need that extra time, it would be wise for me to take it and wait until I'm 100 percent healthy. Time will tell everything. As we go on, we'll know where we are in the standings, we'll know how my body is feeling and then we can make some decisions."

The Blue Jays are expected to start Ryan Goins at shortstop and veteran Cliff Pennington at second base during Tulowitzki's absence. Infielder Darwin Barney was acquired from the Dodgers on Sunday morning to provide additional depth, but he will not be eligible for the postseason roster.

That would leave Munenori Kawasaki as the lone remaining option currently with the team who could fill in and also play in October if Toronto makes it to the postseason. If the club gets desperate, it could also look to its Minor League system and promote a player such as Jonathan Diaz.

This is the first time the new-look Blue Jays have been faced with this kind of crisis. Toronto entered play on Sunday with a 32-9 record since July 29, and everything was smooth sailing until the violent collision between Tulowitzki and Pillar during the second inning of Game 1 on Saturday.

"If you look back in history, all teams who won a World Series or made it deep into the playoffs, all faced adversity, whether guys missed time or things just didn't play out the way they thought it would," said Tulowitzki, who is hitting .232 with a .314 on-base percentage in 39 games for the Blue Jays. "That's part of the game. Hopefully, this will be something that just makes our story that much more special."

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.