Blue Jays’ Saunders out 4-6 weeks to rest knee

Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders. (Tony Dejak/AP)

HOUSTON – The Toronto Blue Jays are expecting to be without Michael Saunders for the next 4-6 weeks so the outfielder can rest his surgically repaired left knee.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos made the revelation Friday and added that Saunders will also get a second opinion on his status from Dr. James Andrews on Monday to ensure there are no other issues.

The belief now is that his body simply needs more time to adapt after 60 per cent of his meniscus was removed in February.

“Just his knee, it was sore and even though he got the cortisone shot and took time off, obviously he played that Saturday and still had pain, so he just hasn’t recovered,” Anthopoulos said before the Blue Jays took on the Houston Astros. “We need to give him rest and at this point I would expect it to be quite a bit of time, top of my head I would think it’s in the 4-6 week range just to let that knee completely recover.”

Download Sportsnet magazine now: iOS | Android | Windows

An extended absence for Saunders certainly complicates matters for the Blue Jays, especially while Jose Bautista is indefinitely limited to DH duties by his shoulder injury, and with Dalton Pompey making gains but still at triple-A Buffalo honing his game.

They’ve been using a combination of Danny Valencia, Chris Colabello and Ezequiel Carrera to flank Kevin Pillar in centre of late.

Saunders was placed on the disabled list for the second time this year May 10, a day after going 0-for-4 in a 7-1 win over Boston. Earlier this month he had fluid from his knee drained and the cortisone shot to try and ease swelling and pain that limited his mobility.

Those efforts didn’t provide any relief, so the team is moving to an extended period of rest to try and help Saunders stay on the field.

The checkup with Dr. Andrews, “is routine,” said Anthopoulos. “(Saunders) had a big chunk of the meniscus removed, had some swelling, fluid, pain – it’s another opinion, another set of eyes, but ultimately it’s going to be rest and he really may not be 100 per cent until the off-season, it may be an on-and-off thing as his body adjusts to not having the cartilage in his knee.”

Saunders was injured during a freak accident in spring training, landing on a practice-field soft spot created by a broken sprinkler. Initial estimates had him being sidelined until the all-star break, but when the surgeon saw that his meniscus couldn’t be repaired and had to be removed, the timeline was moved up to April.

He returned April 25 and has played in just nine games.

Asked if it’s possible if something went wrong with the surgery, Anthopoulos replied: “When you remove the meniscus, there’s really isn’t anything else to do. If it had been a repair, that would be a little different, but really (removal) was the only option he had. You don’t know how the body is going to acclimate, how the body is going to heal, that’s what I’ve been told, everyone recovers in their own way and it’s taken a little bit longer for his body to recover.”

Anthopoulos also provided updates on other injured Blue Jays.

  • Jose Reyes (cracked rib/oblique strain) took full batting practice with the team Friday and could head off on a rehab assignment “next week some time, I would hope,” said the GM. “We’re getting closer, I would think at some point next week we’ll be able to send him out on an assignment.”
  • Dioner Navarro, out since April 22 with a left hamstring strain, continues to make slow progress and there’s no timeline for his return. “Still recovering, hamstring isn’t there, hasn’t started a rehab assignment yet,” said Anthopoulos. “Haven’t gotten word as to when that’s going to happen. Hopefully it’s soon.”
  • Maicer Izturis, out since late March with a groin injury, is set to begin a rehab assignment Monday at single-A Dunedin. “It was the groin that initially had the injury, and that was recovering, and then his left knee started to bark, so he needed to take some time off there,” said Anthopoulos. “Ultimately now he’s feeling a lot better.”
  • When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.