Blue Jays expect Saunders back early in season

Alex Anthopoulos addressed the media on a bit of good news from Blue Jays camp: Michael Saunders' injury will likely only keep him out for 4-6 weeks.

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Michael Saunders should be ready to rejoin the Toronto Blue Jays by mid-April rather than around the all-star break after the left-fielder had 60 percent of the meniscus removed from his left knee during surgery Friday.

The dramatic change in prognosis came after team orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Steven Mirabello found that the tear Saunders suffered in a freak accident Wednesday was so significant, it could not be repaired.

Initially, the plan was to fix the meniscus, which requires a significantly longer recovery period. But given that the procedure has a coin-flip success rate, particularly for professional athletes, Saunders’ preference was to have the damaged cartilage removed anyway, according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

The final call was made during the surgery, and “it wasn’t even an option to get it repaired.”

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Saunders is now expected to miss five to six weeks, should be able to start running in two weeks, and possibly begin a rehab assignment three to four weeks from now.

“Having him back sooner is great, and nice that he’s got a chance to be back by the middle of April,” said Anthopoulos. “If he recovers well, it could be a little sooner. I think the standard is four to six weeks, but just because we’re in spring training and trying to get ready, and talking with the doctors, he’s going to need at-bats. That’s maybe where it’s going to take a little bit longer.”

Either way, the news is very good for the Blue Jays, who were closely examining external options to try and cover Saunders’ absence. Instead, any plans they may have had are now on the backburner and they’ll make do with what they have internally.

“Definitely a big change there, so that certainly would change our outlook,” said Anthopoulos.

Saunders was injured while jogging after a fly ball when he hit a soft spot around an underground water sprinkler on a practice-field outfield, and felt a pop.

Blue Jays staff has been looking into what caused the issue on the field.

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