Donaldson returns with grand slam in DH role

Reigning AL MVP still considered day to day for action in field

Donaldson returns with grand slam in DH role

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson might be dealing with a strained right calf muscle, but that didn't stop him from bringing the rain for Toronto's home opener on Friday night.

Donaldson was questionable to start vs. Boston, but he was in the lineup as the designated hitter and came through in the fourth inning with a grand slam. The deep shot to left gave the Blue Jays a five-run lead they would let slip away in an 8-7 loss.

The slam was Donaldson's first since June 7, 2013, vs. the White Sox and his third home run through five games this season. The atmosphere at Rogers Centre was similar to last September after the home run, but that did little to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing end to the night.

"First game back at home, it's nice to be able to do something like that," Donaldson said. "At the end of the day, we lost the game so there's no really small victories. I feel very confident in our team, in our ability to go out there and win games. I feel like it's going to start turning around for us."

The 30-year-old Donaldson likely could have got the start at third base, but the Blue Jays want to take a precautionary approach with his minor injury. He has battled calf issues in the past and it tends to linger, but Donaldson typically has been able to play through the pain.

Toronto wanted to keep his bat in the lineup while at the same time giving Donaldson a little bit of rest. That's where the DH spot came into play and it's the position he might have for the next couple of games, as for now, he will be considered day to day in the field.

The most important thing is that the Blue Jays hang onto his offensive production while Donaldson continues to rehab. The fact he played Friday night should hardly come as a surprise considering he has appeared in 158 games during each of the past three seasons.

"It actually progressed a little bit throughout the game," Donaldson said. "I was kind of able to run a little bit more down the line than I was initially thinking. The telltale sign is going to be how I feel in the morning and hopefully I'll be able to get on the field tomorrow."

Donaldson receives MVP award

Donaldson, who received his American League MVP Award on the field prior to Friday night's game, has been dealing with the calf injury since the end of Spring Training. It forced his departure from Wednesday afternoon's game at Tropicana Field in the seventh inning, but a team off-day on Thursday was all he needed to get back into the lineup.

"I still have to do a few things for it to get it on the right track and hopefully tomorrow it feels great," Donaldson said.

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.