ST. PETERSBURG -- The long wait is over and the Blue Jays have finally welcomed Jose Reyes back into the fold.
Reyes was activated off the 60-day disabled list following Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to the Rays. In order to make room on the roster, infielder Munenori Kawasaki was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, while right-hander Ramon Ortiz was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
The 30-year-old Reyes arrived in Tampa Bay on Tuesday evening and is expected to hit leadoff in Wednesday's series finale. It took a little over two months, but the four-time All-Star is back to potentially give the Blue Jays another spark.
"I'm very excited about it, because it was two months that I couldn't do what I love to do," said Reyes, who missed 66 games. "Now I know I'll be on the field again, around my teammates. The way the team is playing, I want to be a part of the exciting thing that's happening right now."
Reyes had been out of action since he severely sprained his left ankle while stealing second base in a game against Kansas City on April 12. It was a gruesome injury, but Reyes will return ahead of schedule after initially being ruled out until the All-Star break.
The Dominican native completed his Minor League rehab on Monday night in Triple-A Buffalo. He played four games for the Bisons and an additional three with Class A Dunedin before being given the green light to return.
Reyes hit .414 during those seven games, with a double, two RBIs, two stolen bases and six runs scored. He said everything went as expected, and the 11-year veteran doesn't anticipate having any problems transitioning back to the big leagues.
"All four games that I played in Triple-A, I felt very comfortable," Reyes said. "Just doing what I do, get on base, running a lot, stealing bases. I played defense good, turned double plays. I did everything that I'll do here when I start playing in games tomorrow."
The Blue Jays went 34-32 during Reyes' absence, but for a long time it looked like the record would be a lot worse than that. Toronto recently salvaged its slow start to the year by reeling off an 11-game winning streak that came to an end on Monday night in Tampa Bay.
Toronto has still only experienced 10 games with Reyes in the lineup, but since the club was able to stay afloat during his absence, the hope is that it will now be able to make the next step and turn into serious contenders.
"When that happened to me I felt bad, because by that time we hadn't played too good," Reyes said of the injury. "But now it's different, that's why I want to be a part of this now. I'm very happy to be back here and playing with my boys."
Santos hopes to return to Blue Jays in July
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos is optimistic that he'll be able to return around the All-Star break.
Santos has been on the disabled list since April 14 after experiencing continued discomfort in his right elbow. He later underwent surgery to have bone chips removed in the area and has been rehabbing at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., since.
The 29-year-old is scheduled to face live hitters for the first time on Friday. He then plans to appear in rehab games for Class A Dunedin on July 1, 4 and 7.
"It wasn't getting to the point where it could be manageable through a whole season," Santos said. "It wasn't where it needed to be. We went the route where we knew there were some bone spurs in there and it was just a matter of hopefully they weren't in a spot where they were affecting me, but unfortunately they were and we got them out of there."
Santos has been limited to just 11 games with the Blue Jays over the past two seasons. Most recently it was the elbow, but last year it was a right shoulder injury which prematurely ended his season in April.
The rash of injuries is one of the main reasons why Santos recently agreed to take part in the weighted-ball program that has been designed by Blue Jays consultant Jamie Evans. Steve Delabar, Casey Janssen and Brett Cecil all use the workout routine, which is designed to help build shoulder strength.
One of the main benefits of the program is increased velocity, but that's not something the hard-throwing Santos is concerned about. Instead, it's the potential for having an increased ability to bounce back from outings and hopefully avoid injuries that is most appealing.
Right-hander Dustin McGowan also joined the program earlier this season and was able to return to the big leagues after suffering multiple shoulder injuries in recent years. That opened Santos' eyes and he's hopeful that the injuries will now become a thing of the past, because it's been a frustrating time since he joined the Blue Jays in a 2011 offseason deal with the White Sox.
"I'll say this, it gets really frustrating," Santos said of his injury woes. "It gets really upsetting, because at the end of the day, all I want to do is be out there playing and, you know, I try to stay as positive and upbeat as I can, but there's definitely -- you have some days where I don't want to pick up a ball or do anything because you're just, it seems that you're so [angry].
"I'm kind of seeing that light at the end of the tunnel now to where I'm throwing bullpens, letting it go and there are no issues anywhere. I'm bouncing back fine, I'm long tossing on the days after I have my bullpens, so everything is going right."
Lawrie to begin rehab assignment on Wednesday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie will begin his rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday.
Lawrie has been out since May 27 with a sprained left ankle. He was originally expected to miss just a few days, but the injury was more severe than first anticipated and resulted in a stint on the 15-day disabled list.
Lawrie is expected to need approximately two weeks of Minor League games before rejoining the Blue Jays. The work will start in Dunedin, then eventually include a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo.
The news comes just one day after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that Lawrie was likely still two weeks away from a rehab assignment. He misspoke at the time, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos stated later that night the rehab was set to begin Wednesday.
Lawrie hit just .209 with 11 extra-base hits in 37 games for the Blue Jays this year. The prolonged offensive struggles came as somewhat of a surprise, but he still provided well-above average defense at third base.
The 23-year-old is a career .266 hitter with 25 homers and 87 RBIs in 205 games at the big league level.