MLB

Phillies-Blue Jays preview

TORONTO -- Jose Bautista is expected to return to the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup Monday for the opener of a four-game, home-and-home interleague series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The teams are familiar with each other because of the proximity of their Florida spring training sites with the Blue Jays in Dunedin, which is adjacent to Clearwater, where the Phillies train.

The Blue Jays are on a roll after taking the final three games of a four-game series against American League East rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. Toronto has moved to within 2 1/2 games of Baltimore and the Boston Red Sox in the division.

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They did it with Ezequiel Carrera playing right field and batting leadoff for the past three games while Bautista was out with a sore right thigh. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Bautista would return Monday as designated hitter.

Carrera replaced Bautista as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning of the Thursday loss to the Orioles. The Blue Jays' fourth outfielder had a hit in each of the three games he started against Orioles going 4-for-12 (.333) with two walks and a sacrifice bunt.

Not so certain is whether Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna will be ready for Monday. He was not available for the second game in a row Sunday.

"He was a little sore, nothing major," Gibbons said after the 10-9 win over the Orioles on Sunday. "We can't afford to lose him. He's been carrying a pretty big work load."

With the DH used in the American League park, Ryan Howard is expected to get some at-bats in that role.

"I'll probably DH Howie," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Mackanin said on Friday that Tommy Joseph would replace Howard as the Phillies' regular first baseman. Howard will be relegated to pinch-hitting and spot starts. The DH affords a good opportunity for that.

"I flat-out don't like it," Mackanin said. "I don't like to have to deal with it because of what he's done for the organization over the years. Once again, this is another year where we're looking to the future, and Tommy Joseph looks like he's going to be in the future."

Jimmy Paredes, who spent seven games with the Blue Jays after being claimed off waivers from the Orioles, will return Monday with the Phillies. The Blue Jays traded him to the Phillies for cash considerations on June 1.

Paredes, a switch-hitter who plays outfield and infield, was 0-for-4 after starting in right field in the Phillies' 5-4, ninth-inning loss to the Washington Nationals on Sunday. He was 4-for-15 (.267) with one homer and two RBIs in Toronto. He is 4-for-24 (.167) with one homer and four RBIs for the Phillies.

The Phillies will start right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (3-8, 3.68 ERA), who is coming off a solid start in which he held the Chicago Cubs to one run in seven innings. He has a 2.76 ERA in his past five starts. This will be his first start against Toronto.

Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey (4-6, 4.15 ERA) will be seeking his third straight start Monday. He held the Detroit Tigers to two runs in 5 1/3 innings Thursday in Toronto's 7-2 win despite having a poor knuckleball. He is 5-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts against Philadelphia.

The Blue Jays will take a break from the AL East for the series before returning to face the Orioles for a three-game series opening Friday.

Reliever Jason Grilli who joined Toronto after a trade with the Atlanta Braves talked about then intensity in the AL East after he picked up his first save with his new team Sunday in the 10-9 victory.

"It's like a heavyweight boxing match every night," the 39-year-old right-hander said. "No big lead is big enough from the sounds of it and from the looks of it."