With Lind close to return, Toronto faces decisions

With Lind close to return, Toronto faces decisions

PHILADELPHIA -- The Blue Jays will have to make a series of tough roster decisions when Adam Lind makes his return to the lineup later this week.

Lind, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sore lower back, began a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Sunday afternoon. He could be back with Toronto as soon as Wednesday, and by the latest, this weekend vs. the Angels.

Before Lind returns, the Blue Jays must decide what to do with Juan Francisco. The 26-year-old corner infielder has done an admirable job of filling in during Lind's absence and has proven himself to be a valuable commodity.

"It's a little bit of a logjam, because we like what Francisco is doing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Can't take a chance, I wouldn't think, of letting Francisco go. Somebody's gotta grab him, he's too valuable."

Francisco entered play on Monday night hitting .277 with three homers and six RBIs in 13 games this season. He's best suited as a designated hitter, but Francisco has held his own during a handful of games at first and third base.

The Dominican native doesn't have any options remaining on his contract and cannot be sent to the Minors without passing through waivers. That means the Blue Jays will need to find a way to keep him on the 25-man roster. One possibility would be eliminating one reliever from the eight-man bullpen and using Francisco as a bat off the bench.

Another possibility would be moving Brett Lawrie to second base on a more permanent basis. Lawrie has been playing second during Interleague action to get Francisco's bat into the lineup at third base. It was originally supposed to be a short-term move, but might be something Toronto has to think about after Francisco's hot start.

"He strikes fear into you, makes us stronger," Gibbons said of Francisco.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.