Blue Jays activate outfielder Pillar from 15-day DL, Bautista returning Thursday

By The Canadian Press
August 23, 2016 - 1:10pm

TORONTO — Despite suffering a hand injury that placed him on the disabled list, don't expect Kevin Pillar's game to change any time soon.

The Toronto Blue Jays activated the rugged centre-fielder from the DL on Tuesday before opening a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at Rogers Centre.

Pillar missed the last two weeks with a thumb strain after being placed on the disabled list on Aug. 8.

"I play the game hard, I play the game with instincts and sometimes those things happen but as long as I'm protected, I'm confident in the protection I'm wearing that I'll be fine," Pillar said.

Right-handed pitcher Ryan Tepera was optioned to triple-A Buffalo in a corresponding move.

Pillar had six hits in seven at-bats with two runs-batted in over two rehab games with the Class-A advanced Dunedin Blue Jays.

"I played the game real hard down there," Pillar said. "I wanted to put my body through the tests. It had been about 15 days since I had been on the field."

The 27-year-old is batting .261 with seven home runs and 45 runs batted in. Pillar is a key component to the Toronto defence, often stretching out to dive and make highlight-reel catches.

"I don't feel like there's anything I can't do out there that I wasn't able to do before the injury," he said. "It's just something I'm going to have to deal with. Take care of it in the off-season."

His return is also a welcome sight for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

"He's a big part of our team. He's kind of our spark plug in a lot of ways," Gibbons said. "He's feeling good so we're glad he's back."

Gibbons says that star slugger Jose Bautista is also expected to return from a DL stint on Thursday.

Bautista, 35, was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 10 with a sprained left knee that was suffered while attempting a throw from right field earlier this month in a loss against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bautista played in a simulated game in Florida on Tuesday and is slated to play another one on Wednesday before re-joining the team.

Gibbons says that he doesn't believe Bautista will need a rehab game and that the team needs him.

"He'll get his fair share of DH (designated hitter), no doubt about it, but he won't strictly be limited to that but we'll guard him," Gibbons said.

Bautista had just returned from another stint on the DL not long before being injured again. A left toe injury kept him out of the lineup between mid-June to late July.

Meanwhile, second baseman Devon Travis was kept out of the lineup on Tuesday with a ligament issue in his right knuckle that flared up on him. Gibbons says that Travis had to get a cortisone shot and that it's pretty sore but is hopeful that it will only keep him out of the lineup for a day.

Darwin Barney slotted into Travis's spot in the lineup, batting leadoff against Los Angeles.

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Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

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