MIAMI -- Rajai Davis is making the most of his second chance at a starting job with the Blue Jays this month.
Davis officially took over the starting duties in left field when Eric Thames was optioned to the Minor Leagues on May 29 following a disappointing start to the year.
The 31-year-old Davis has since seized the opportunity and appears to have put a subpar 2011 season behind him.
"He's done a really good job of getting a fastball early in the count and not missing it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I think that's the result of a much more consistent swing.
"We'll still see him fall over occasionally at the plate, but his swing path has been more consistent. So when he gets a pitch on the plate, he has been able to handle that fastball early in the count."
Davis is hitting .318 with a .375 OBP and five extra-base hits since Thames' departure. He also has provided an element of speed at the bottom of Toronto's lineup, with nine stolen bases in 11 attempts during those 20 games.
The numbers have come in a relatively small sample size, but they're still a drastic improvement over last year's total results. In 2011, Davis struggled as the starting center fielder before eventually losing his job en route to hitting .238 with a .273 on-base percentage.
The biggest difference has been his ability to handle right-handed pitching. Last season, Davis hit righties at just a .221 clip, but he has posted a .300 average vs. righties this year.
"Davis quietly goes along putting up a solid year and has been a force in a number of ways for us," Farrell said.
"I think we're seeing the hitter that he was for two years in Oakland prior to coming here. I can't say that this year is a fluke by any means."
Farrell has gone out of his way in recent days to praise Davis' turnaround at the plate. Davis was expected to eventually be challenged by Triple-A outfielder Travis Snider for the starting job, but as long as Davis continues to produce, the Blue Jays likely will stick with the status quo.
Davis is a career .273 hitter with 194 stolen bases in parts of seven seasons at the big league level.
Blue Jays 'pen gets well-deserved rest
MIAMI -- An off-day combined with seven strong innings from left-hander Ricky Romero has gone a long way in helping restore order to the Blue Jays' bullpen.
Toronto has been carrying an extra reliever in recent weeks following a rash of injuries to the pitching staff, but even possessing an additional arm has done little to ease the level of fatigue.
The Blue Jays closed out their three-game series in Milwaukee on Wednesday with an exhausted bullpen. But a full 24 hours of rest plus an additional day off on Friday night for most of the relievers will go a long way in getting things back to normal.
"Guys that really have been pressed in that last series -- and really the last two series -- they've had a chance to get a little bit of a breather," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Thankfully our offense created some of that room last night to do that, and Ricky's seven innings certainly goes a long way.
"I feel like, for the time being, we're caught back up, and if we need multiple innings, we have [Carlos] Villanueva or [Luis] Perez available."
Toronto was put in an unenviable position last week when the club lost right-handers Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison to the 15-day disabled list. That forced the club to add a couple of relievers with the ability to go multiple innings as a way to ease the burden on the depleted rotation.
Villanueva, Perez, Robert Coello and even David Pauley all have the ability to throw more than one inning when called upon.
"We feel like there are three relievers down there of the current eight-man relief group that can give us multiple innings to bridge the gap to the later-inning guys," Farrell said. "We've got a little bit more unknown in our rotation than maybe one that could say, 'OK, let's go with these four guys where we know what we're going to get from them.'"
Santos starts up again with throwing program
MIAMI -- Sergio Santos has taken a positive step forward in his rehab from a right shoulder injury, but there is still no timetable for his return.
Santos, who has been out since April 21 with inflammation in his right shoulder, has once again begun a throwing program. He will eventually need to start throwing from 150-to-175 feet in order to build up arm strength before getting back onto the mound.
"He's started back up with the throwing program," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who added it's almost like Santos is starting over. "The last two times he has thrown the ball on flat ground, he has felt very good."
Santos was the Blue Jays' top acquisition during the offseason. He was obtained in a trade with the White Sox and was expected to serve as closer, but the native of California has appeared in just six games this season.
It's not how either side envisioned the 2012 season shaping up, but with Santos under contract until at least 2014, the Blue Jays want to ensure he is completely healthy before getting him back onto the mound.
Last season in Chicago, Santos posted a 3.55 ERA in 63 games while striking out 92 and walking just 29 in 63 1/3 innings.