Sanchez on track to return Sunday

Sanchez on track to return Sunday

TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez appears to have cleared the final hurdle in his recovery from a right middle finger injury and the Blue Jays right-hander remains on track to start Sunday vs. Seattle.

Sanchez has been on the disabled list twice this season because of the problematic finger and has not pitched for the Blue Jays since April 30. On Tuesday morning, he tossed a simulated game at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., and the following day was feeling fine.

The plan is for Sanchez to now throw a side session in Toronto on Friday and, barring any unforeseen setbacks along the way, he will pitch Sunday's series finale against the Mariners.

"It was definitely a little tougher playing with the guys down there," Sanchez said of the simulated game involving Minor Leaguers. "Competition wasn't really the same, but I think what I got out of that is that I feel good. I threw everything. I threw everything for strikes.

"I think my first time out there, my mechanics were a little rusty. I hadn't been out there in awhile but the next three up and downs were really good. I was pleased. ... The finger felt fine. No problems."

Sanchez's finger issue began late in Spring Training when a blister appeared. He had dealt with the issue before and the hope was that a surgical procedure to remove a portion of his nail would solve the problem. The plan initially worked, but in Sanchez's first start off the DL, he could only last one inning because the remaining portion of his nail cracked.

The return of Sanchez likely will spell the end of right-hander Mike Bolsinger in Toronto's rotation. Bolsinger made his season debut in a 6-0 loss to the Indians on Tuesday night and allowed just two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Normally, that would be cause for another outing, but with Sanchez returning and the club seemingly committed to Joe Biagini as a starter, that would put Bolsinger on the outside looking in.

Bolsinger is out of options on his contract and cannot be optioned to the Minors without first clearing waivers. One way around that would be to put him in the bullpen as a long reliever, but there are several tough decisions to make there as well for a team that currently has eight relievers. That decision won't come for another day or two and in the meantime, the most important thing is that Sanchez is on the mend.

"That thing is so healed up now that you don't feel much," Sanchez said. "I think, for me, it's the freedom of not having to worry about it. There were so many times when I was out there, not wanting to throw [my curveball] because I didn't know if it was going to be an issue. Now, I can go out there and not even think about doing it. Doing it and doing it over again without any problems. I think that's what I'm most happy with."

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.