Stroman rehab assignment tentatively slated for Aug. 21

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons talks about the possibility of pitcher Marcus Stroman returning to the lineup.

TORONTO – Marcus Stroman’s goal of a September return moved a step closer to reality with plans to send him out on a rehab assignment Aug. 21, although the Toronto Blue Jays moved to limit expectations on their young right-hander Wednesday.

Stroman is completing his degree at Duke, where he’s also continuing to rehabilitate the ACL in his left knee he tore during spring training. He’s regularly playing catch on flat ground and manager John Gibbons said that Stroman was expected to throw off a mound next Wednesday, but there was uncertainty over that timeline.

Either way, the target date for a rehab assignment raised the potential for Stroman to meet his often-stated goal of pitching this season, something Gibbons still described as “fantasy world.”

“But,” Gibbons continued, “if he somehow pulled it off, he’d probably come pitch out of the bullpen.”

Should Stroman succeed in returning this season, the potential benefits to him would be restoring his confidence in the knee to create a worry-free winter. There are some risks in rushing him back, as well, although the Blue Jays would use the appropriate caution with their prized starter.

“You don’t look at it like ‘he’s coming to the rescue, to save the day,’” said Gibbons. “It’s his goal. We’re on board if he can pull it off, but we’re not going to do anything stupid, either.”

Stroman was expected to front the club’s rotation this year after he posted an 11-6 record with a 3.65 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in 26 games, 20 starts, last year.

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