Blue Jays’ Vlad Guerrero Jr. nearing return, potential promotion

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

ATLANTA – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., faces an important test Wednesday when he is scheduled to do some baserunning, a step that will help the Toronto Blue Jays evaluate when the teenager widely considered baseball’s top prospect is cleared for a return to game action.

Where he plays once ready became the subject of some intrigue, as the Toronto Sun reported Tuesday that he will be promoted from double-A New Hampshire to triple-A Buffalo upon his return from a patellar tendon strain in his left knee.

While industry sources described that as a possibility under consideration, the 19-year-old could just as easily start at another level to get his feet under him, too.

That was manager John Gibbons’ sense, as well.

“Eventually he’s going to get there (to triple-A),” Gibbons said. “But I would think he’s going to have to play some in double-A to get back on track.”

Guerrero left an early June game after landing on first base awkwardly, returned a few days later but exited that contest after a slide into second base.

At the time of his injury, he was batting .407/.457/.667 with 11 homers and 20 walks against 21 strikeouts in 53 games with the Fisher Cats. A move up to Buffalo was imminent.

The patellar tendon attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the shinbone.

TEPERA THROWS: The Blue Jays are aiming to get Ryan Tepera some work this weekend in Boston after he threw his first side session since hitting the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

The right-hander said afterward that he was happy with his 20-pitch bullpen during which his arm “felt normal.” He threw both fastballs and sliders and really unleashed on a few pitches, rebuilding some confidence that his elbow is strong and sound.

“The first day of throwing I was a little wary, it was a mental thing. It was a matter of getting in there and trusting it again,” said Tepera. “Each day I’ve played catch it’s definitely gotten better and better. I was very pleased.”

Tepera had an MRI on his elbow which revealed no structural damage and that also helped clear his mind.

The precise next steps for him are undecided as the Blue Jays weigh whether to have him throw in a simulated game later this week or pitch in a quickie rehab assignment ahead of an inning in Boston.

Either way, he’ll be doing it with more confidence after Tuesday’s bullpen.

“It felt really good,” said Tepera. “I cut off a couple of the first fastballs that I threw, it’s just a matter of trusting it right now, but after the first two I started getting the extension I need and the action I want. Threw some sliders. Everything went well.”

SHORT HOPS: Aaron Sanchez threw some long-toss for the second straight day and the Blue Jays are hoping he can get on a mound later this week, although that’s only likely to happen if he’s symptom-free in his right index finger. … Marco Estrada will start Saturday in Boston if his bullpen Wednesday goes to plan. He’s dealing with a strained glute. … Jaime Garcia (shoulder) is slated to pitch in a rehab outing for single-A Dunedin on Thursday. … Josh Donaldson has resumed baseball activities and started a running progression, with no symptoms in his left calf thus far. … Danny Barnes (left knee) threw a side session that went well and is slated to throw another Friday. … Troy Tulowitzki (surgery on both heels) is ramping back up after a prescribed week of rest.

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