ANAHEIM -- The American League East has been hit hard in recent weeks with a series of devastating injuries, and although the Blue Jays have avoided problems with any of their stars, there is still a laundry list of players trying to get back into games.
Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and New York's Mariano Rivera and Michael Pineda are just a few of the big-name players to go down in recent weeks, but the Blue Jays also have some concerns of their own.
Dustin McGowan, Sergio Santos, Travis Snider and Brett Cecil are among those working their way back from various ailments, but most appear to be turning a corner in their rehab.
"McGowan is an a shoulder-strengthening phase right now," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of the veteran right-hander, who was shutdown in late April with inflammation in his right shoulder. "Those exercises and intensity of the rehab will pick up through the next week, and right now we're projected to start a throwing program on [May 17]."
There still isn't a timeframe for McGowan's return to the big leagues, but Snider is nearing game action with Triple-A Las Vegas. The 24-year-old, who was beat out by Eric Thames for the starting job in left field during Spring Training, suffered a jammed wrist on April 26.
Snider is expected to be ready Sunday, when he is eligible to come off the seven-day disabled list.
"Yesterday, he went from a progression of dry swings, to tee, to front toss, 15 each," Farrell said. "So, the symptoms are slowing down but to make sure that there was a full roster, DL'd him just so it didn't feel like it was necessary to force him back but he's making steady progress to getting back to activity."
Cecil, who is with Double-A New Hampshire, hasn't pitched since April 19 because of a strained groin. He is expected to take part in at least one bullpen session before making his return with the Fisher Cats.
The same can't be said for his teammate, Ryan Tepera, who has been shutdown for an indefinite period of time because of a right shoulder injury.
"He felt some soreness in the shoulder," Farrell said of Tepera, who is 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in six games at Double-A this year. "I don't have an update as far as how long he'll be backed out but I do know that he felt some discomfort in the right shoulder."
Mo injury reminds Blue Jays to be cautious
ANAHEIM -- Mariano Rivera's serious injury has caused many teams to reflect on safety measures for their players.
The Yankees' star closer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while shagging fly balls during batting practice on Thursday and is facing a long rehab.
The incident is best described as a freak injury, and the Blue Jays aren't about to ban their pitchers from taking the field prior to games, but they are conscientious of potential dangers.
"I can't say just because of one unfortunate instance it is a greater emphasis," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Those are things that we remind guys of continually, whether it's jumping six feet in the air after hitting a game-winning home run or sliding headfirst into a bag when it's not necessary.
"Instincts of players are what they are and you'd like to think you can protect against anything, but all you can do is be remindful."
The infamous six-foot jump that Farrell referred to occurred at the end of Tuesday's dramatic win over the Rangers. Brett Lawrie hit a walk-off home run in the ninth inning, and as he reached home plate the second-year third baseman leaped into the air while an eager group of teammates awaited his arrival.
Lawrie did a similar celebration following a walk-off homer in 2011, and it's the type of situation that Farrell hopes to avoid in the future because he's concerned about the well-being of Lawrie and the rest of his team.
"You always think of does he land on somebody's foot and turn an ankle?" Farrell said. "I don't know if he mentioned it in the scrum afterwards, but he talked about playing basketball before, and he can jump. I said, 'Well, next time you play basketball you can do that over there but not here.'"
Matchups give Mathis start against old team
ANAHEIM -- Veteran Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis made his eighth appearance of the year on Friday night against the Angels.
Mathis is the backup for J.P. Arencibia and typically has started once in a series that includes a day and night game, but this time manager John Farrell opted to go with the matchups.
Farrell wanted to give Mathis a start with powerful right-hander Ervin Santana on the hill for Los Angeles.
"I like Jeff against guys with high velocity," Farrell said. "That's not to say J.P. can't hit those types, but knowing we were going to pick a spot for him in this series, this is where tonight was the matchup."
Mathis is a career .195 hitter but has enjoyed a strong start to the season. He has opened up his batting stance, and the change in mechanics has led to a .294 average with four extra-base hits in just 17 at-bats.
The 29-year-old was acquired from the Angels during the offseason for left-hander Brad Mills.