Jays’ Santos strikes out 3 during rehab game

Pitcher Sergio Santos struck out the side in a 20 pitch seventh inning for the Buffalo Bisons.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Based on the three strikeouts he posted in his one inning of work, it’s understandable why Sergio Santos feels he’s ready to return to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Santos, pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, fanned three of the four batters he faced, shutting out the Toledo Mud Hens in the seventh inning of a 4-2 loss.

On the disabled list since April 15 with a right triceps strain, Santos allowed a one-out single in the first triple-A game of his rehab assignment. He threw 12 of his 20 pitches for strikes.

Prior to joining Buffalo, Santos appeared in five games with single-A Dunedin and allowed four hits and two walks with two strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

"I felt good. It was definitely a little different atmosphere than I was used to in Dunedin," Santos said. "I had a little more adrenaline going, facing better hitters. It was a better task for me and I was able to get a better gauge of where I'm at."

After a little prodding, Santos admitted he felt ready to make the short jaunt along the Queen Elizabeth Way to Toronto.

"It was a good day's work," Santos said. "If it was up to me, I'd like to be back as soon as possible."

Buffalo manager Marty Brown differed slightly, indicating Santos needs more seasoning.

"He definitely needs another outing or two," Brown said. "Just to see where he's at. He was a little amped up tonight."

Brown added: "He threw the ball well, but threw too many pitches. I liked what I saw, but he's not where he needs to be with his slider."

Santos felt that the hit he allowed provided a benefit, forcing him into a situation with a runner on base.

"That's what I need to work on," he said. "It feels so foreign sometimes when there's runners on base and there's stuff happening. It kind of felt more game-like, in situations I would face during the season. It was good to have that kind of pressure and not let any runs come across."

Outfielder Melky Cabrera also joined the Bisons (49-48) to continue his rehab work, but did not play. He was placed on Toronto's disabled list on June 27 with left knee tendinitis and has played two games with Dunedin and three with double-A New Hampshire, batting .294 (5-of-17) in five games. Cabrera is expected to make his Buffalo debut on Friday.

Thad Weber (3-4), who made four appearances with Toronto in May and June, started for Buffalo and battled through five innings. He matched his season-high with four runs allowed on six hits and a season-high four walks.

Weber entered the game with five quality starts in his last six appearances and had last worked fewer than six innings on June 4.

Buffalo, in its first game since the all-star break, was held to seven hits, including a two-out triple by Kevin Pillar in the first inning.

Pillar has been a revelation at triple-A, batting .347 with hits in 20-of-25 games with the Bisons.

Munenori Kawasaki, optioned to Buffalo last Saturday when Brett Lawrie made his Toronto return, was 1-of-3 with an infield single and a walk.

Both of the Bisons representatives in the triple-A all-star game, held Wednesday in Reno, played against Toledo. Jim Negrych and Mauro Gomez each went 1-of-3 and scored runs.