Jays Notebook: Johnson to resume throwing

Free agent right-hander Josh Johnson (Nathan Denette/CP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson is set to resume throwing Thursday after the latest MRIs taken on his troubled triceps came back clean.

The second round of tests found nothing but inflammation in the area, just like his initial exam two weekends ago.

An exact timeline for Johnson’s return isn’t set, although it will likely be a couple of weeks since he hasn’t pitched since April 21 and will need to make a couple of rehab starts to build himself back up to at least seven innings before returning.

That may take him to at least late May.

Johnson was placed on the disabled list retroactively to April 29 last week when he tried to throw a bullpen but experienced pain in his triceps.

Ricky Romero was recalled from single-A Dunedin to take his place.

DIFFERENT LOOK: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons paired catcher Henry Blanco with Mark Buehrle for the first time this season with an eye towards giving the struggling left-hander a help up with a different look behind the plate.

“I just wanted to run one game like that and see,” Gibbons said before the game. “Mark, it has been a tough go for him, and we’ll change up the catchers to see if that does anything. …

“(Blanco) is a stellar defensive catcher. Basically, I just want to look at it for one game and see what happens.”

Buehrle entered the game 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA in six outings.

Up until Monday, Blanco had worked exclusively in game started by R.A. Dickey, save for two bits of mop-up duty, with J.P. Arencibia handling the rest of the staff.

“He’s not happy, I didn’t expect him to be,” Gibbons said of Arencibia. “But it’s just something I want to look at.”

HOUSE OF HORRORS: The Blue Jays arrived in the Tampa Bay area carrying a streak of 17 straight road series losses to the Rays, going 12-39 over that span.

The run is the third-longest in American League history, trailing only the 19 consecutive series the St. Louis Browns dropped to the New York Yankees from 1946-1951 and 18 series the Browns dropped to the Boston Red Sox from 1949-1953.

“You look over the years, they have that magic late in the games, a lot of walkoff wins that are on the highlights all of the time,” said John Gibbons. “But when it comes down to it, they’re a good team to begin with, and you have to play good at your home field anyways. But it definitely has been a tough spot for us.”

CY-vs-CY: R.A. Dickey and David Price will faceoff Thursday in the Jays-Rays finale in only the third matchup of reigning Cy Young Award winners since each league started having its own winner in 1969.

Frank Viola beat Orel Hershiser in 1989 and Tom Glavine beat Roger Clemens in 1999.

“The whole baseball world wants to see that when you get two of the top guys going at it,” said John Gibbons. “You figure if they’re both on, it’s going to be one of those games, a very low scoring game. It’s pretty special.”

Added Joe Maddon: “Dickey reinvented himself with all that, he’s got a lot of charisma, a great personality, he’s done a lot of very interesting things, and now he invents a knuckleball and becomes a Cy Young Award winner – that’s all really cool stuff.”

Neither has been particularly on this season, and with three wins combined so far, they become the fourth Cy Young duo to have so few wins so deep into the season.

FAMILIAR FACES: Former Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson batted second in left field for the Rays while shortstop Yunel Escobar was out again after being hit on the left hand Saturday. Two other ex-Jays, Ryan Roberts and Jose Molina, started at second base and catcher.

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