On track for rehab stint, Pillar nearing return

Bautista making progress in Florida; rotation to remain on turn for time being

On track for rehab stint, Pillar nearing return

NEW YORK -- Kevin Pillar is expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend, and the outfielder plans to be back in the Blue Jays' lineup early next week.

Pillar has been out since Aug. 6 with a sprained left thumb. He is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, and all signs point to him being ready by that point.

The 27-year-old will travel with the Blue Jays to Cleveland, and he'll go through some drills prior to Friday night's game vs. the Indians before receiving final clearance to begin a rehab assignment.

"There's a good chance this weekend he'll go down to Florida," manager John Gibbons said Wednesday morning. "Get a little action. He was out there doing his defensive stuff earlier today; he's going to hit in the cage.

"He'll take tomorrow off like everybody else, and then he'll come out and do a full workout with us pregame Friday, and then he'll head out Saturday. That's the tentative plan."

Right fielder Jose Bautista also appears to be making some progress in his return from a sprained left knee. Bautista is currently working out in Florida. There is no immediate time frame for his return, but the club remains optimistic that he'll be back by the end of the month.

"There's an outside shot when his two weeks are up," Gibbons said in reference to Aug. 25, which is the date Bautista is eligible to come off the 15-day DL.

Staying on turn

The Blue Jays are going to skip at least a couple of Aaron Sanchez's starts down the stretch, but it's not going to happen during next turn through the rotation. Gibbons announced on Wednesday morning that despite Thursday's off-day, everyone in the rotation will make their next scheduled outing.

Lefty Francisco Liriano will start the series opener in Cleveland on Friday night, and he will be followed by Sanchez and right-hander Marcus Stroman in the finale. That would leave R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to start in the following series vs. the Angels.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com 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.