Short-handed Blue Jays have Saunders sit out

Short-handed Blue Jays have Saunders sit out

PHOENIX -- Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders missed Wednesday afternoon's game against the D-Backs because he had to return home for personal reasons.

Toronto manager John Gibbons does not expect Saunders' absence to be a long one. The All-Star likely will re-join the Blue Jays in time for their series opener against the Mariners on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

"I don't think so," Gibbons said when asked if Saunders would be away from the team for a few days."

Utilityman Darwin Barney took Saunders' spot in left field for the series finale in Arizona. It was Barney's first career appearance at that position during his big league career, and the first time he played there since 2006, when he was with the U.S. Junior team.

Toronto is temporarily playing with a short bench because outfielder Ezequiel Carrera is dealing with a sore left Achilles. Carrera has been out since Saturday, but is making progress and likely will return to the lineup on Friday.

Carrera scores on wild pitch

Slew of roster moves on the way

Toronto's 25-man roster is expected to look a lot different in the coming days. Right-hander Marco Estrada will be activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday night's game against the Mariners, but that's just one of several moves that are likely coming soon.

Utilityman Ryan Goins also is nearing a return from a right forearm injury. Goins is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo, but Gibbons said "he's healthy," and it sounds like there's a good chance he could return on Friday as well.

Left-hander Franklin Morales' 30-day rehab assignment with expire at the end of the day on Wednesday. Toronto will then have to either add him to the 25-man roster, release him or designate him for assignment. Gibbons said the club has yet to make a decision on what steps will be taken.

Then, finally, outfielder Jose Bautista is expected to return on Monday. Bautista has been out since the middle of June with turf toe on his right foot, but he began a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday. Bautista is scheduled to appear in three games for Buffalo this weekend before re-joining the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays likely would option relievers Aaron Loup, Bo Schultz and utiltyman Andy Burns to the Minors to make room for Morales, Goins and Estrada on the 25-man roster.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. 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.