Estrada returns to mound after back tightness

Blue Jays starter on normal schedule for Spring Training

Estrada returns to mound after back tightness

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Marco Estrada was back on the mound Friday morning for the first time this spring following a brief absence because of tightness in his lower back.

Estrada felt his back lock up while working out a week prior to Spring Training. The injury wasn't considered serious, but it did force a period of rest that came to an end this week.

Estrada tossed 200 innings including the postseason last year and the plan all along, even before the injury, was to have a delayed start to the spring.

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"They were planning on slowing me down anyways," said Estrada, who went 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in 34 outings last season. "I guess this whole back thing worked out because I'm still on time. Everything is going according to plan, I haven't missed any days or anything. We're on schedule for sure.

"I think it was just because of the amount of innings I threw last year. Before that, 150 might have been my maximum number of innings, and with everything, I probably threw 200. I think they just figured, take it back a notch and slowly build up."

Estrada has dealt with back issues in the past, with most of his problems dating back to high school. He had to get the area examined before the Blue Jays officially signed off on a two-year contract during the offseason, because a loose disk in his back is a known issue.

Despite all of that, Estrada said the back typically hasn't caused him many problems during his Major League career. He hopes that is the case again this year, and the tightness has subsided as expected from the original three-week timeline Estrada received from doctors.

The Blue Jays have another month to prepare for the start of the regular season, so there is plenty of time to get ready. It's actually a better situation than the one Estrada had last year when he twisted his ankle midway through camp and had to get ready for the start of the year in a hurry.

"It's not a big deal. I've pitched for years and it hasn't bothered me," said Estrada, who will throw two or three more bullpen sessions before getting into a Grapefruit League game. "Swinging a bat kind of affects it a little bit, but I don't swing hard anyways. There isn't much torque when I hit.

"I rolled my ankle and missed two weeks [last year]. Same thing, just a different injury. It worked out for me, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.