NEW YORK – Jose Reyes bounced around the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse in shorts and a sleeveless workout shirt emblazoned with the Superman symbol, yammering away at every teammate he encountered, a beaming smile etched on his face.
There was no missing the star shortstop’s return to his team Friday afternoon, back after a few weeks at home rehabbing the left ankle he sprained April 12 with trainer Rob Panariello, his activation from the disabled list if not imminent, at least on the horizon.
Teasing everyone, including himself, Reyes stretched with the Blue Jays on field before batting practice and then stood at shortstop with Henry Blanco while his teammates took their rips. If he was tempted to do more, he managed to restrain himself, something he’s needed to do at times the past five weeks.
“Believe me, sometimes my trainer he gets crazy because I want to run so bad, I want to do everything in one day,” said Reyes. “But I have to think don’t put myself back. I’ve been through a lot of injuries in my career and I learned from that. I know I need to take my time, do my rehab the way I’m supposed to do it and then go from there. I don’t want to say take my time, but see every day how I feel and make the progression from that.”
The progress has been steady since his fateful slide in Kansas City, with three straight days of hitting off a tee and soft toss, and two days of very light jogging. If things continue to go well, he might take some grounders next week, but several signposts must be reached before he can start a rehab assignment.
"Running the bases, that’s going to be a key there for me because of all the cuts you have to do," said Reyes. "When I run the bases one or two times and feel good, I’m going to let it go and start to play some games."
Reyes has kept close tabs on the Blue Jays from home, saying that he’s watched "every game" on TV. He likes what he’s seen over the past week and change, and will get to watch things first-hand for the foreseeable future as he’ll stay with the club until his rehab outing begins.
His thoughts on what's gone down?
"Right now they’re doing the little stuff, get a big hit with two outs, that’s something earlier in the season you didn’t see that much," said Reyes. "When you get that huge out with two hits, everybody gets excited and that’s something I’ve seen the past week. Hopefully they can continue to play like that."
And the Blue Jays hope that Reyes can return as himself once the ankle has sufficiently healed. The 29-year-old suffered a sprained left ankle at the end of the 2003 season and it lingered into 2004, but he doesn’t expect that to happen again.
"The one that I had with the New York Mets was worse than this one," said Reyes. "That one took me a long time to come back from, this one is not that bad. I can see in five weeks I’ve made a lot of progress.
"This one, thank God, is going to get better sooner."
McGOWAN MOVES UP: Reliever Dustin McGowan continues to make swift progress and had his rehabilitation assignment moved from single-A Dunedin to triple-A Buffalo.
The right-hander, who lost 2012 due to plantar fasciitis and a third shoulder surgery, threw two scoreless innings for Dunedin this past week, striking out four batters, and is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list May 30.
Earlier this week, GM Alex Anthopoulos said he expected McGowan, who’s pitching as a reliever, to be ready by then.
ROTATION MATTERS: The Blue Jays starters remain TBA for Monday and Tuesday home against the Tampa Bay Rays, and current plan is Chad Jenkins to get the first assignment and Ramon Ortiz to handle the second.
They could still be flip-flopped if Jenkins, who’s available for an inning or two, sees some action Friday or Saturday.
SHORT HOPS: Sergio Santos’ elbow surgery was deemed a success, with bone chips removed and bone spurs shaved down. Recovery time is expected to take six weeks. … Josh Johnson threw another side session and is on track to make a rehab outing for Dunedin on May 20 or 21. … J.A. Happ continues to rest after taking a line drive off his head, with his skull fracture healing fine but sprained right knee causing him trouble. "His knee is starting to feel better but it's still bothering him," said manager John Gibbons. "But as far as the head and everything he's fine. I think he got the stitches (in his ear) out." … Outfielder Rajai Davis is in Florida to continue rehab of his left oblique strain. Gibbons doesn’t expect the injury to keep him out long.