Published August 22, 2016
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to have center fielder Kevin Pillar back in the lineup on Tuesday when they open a three-game series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (8-13, 4.51 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays in their first meeting this season with the Angels, who will turn to left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-2, 5.19 ERA).
Pillar injured his left thumb on a slide into second base on Aug. 7 in Kansas City. He likely will be reinstated from the disabled list after going 6-for-7 with a double and two RBIs in two games for Class A Dunedin on a rehabilitation assignment.
The move will give the Blue Jays more flexibility in the outfield. Melvin Upton Jr. has been playing center field in Pillar's place and recently has started to find himself at the plate.
Upton has batted .333 (6-for-18) with three home runs and six RBIs in his last five games. When Pillar returns to play center, it means Upton can move to one of the corners, probably right field with Michael Saunders returning to his regular spot in left field.
Ezequiel Carrera would resume his role as the team's fourth outfielder.
It is not certain when Jose Bautista will return from a sprained left knee. He is eligible to return from the disabled list on Thursday for the final game of the series.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson returned to the lineup Sunday following a two-game absence because of a jammed thumb, sustained in an at-bat on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
The Blue Jays' lineup is beginning to return to normal, and they hope it will mean more offensive production. They lost two of three to the Indians in Cleveland with each game decided by one run.
The Angels, meanwhile, are dealing with injuries to their bullpen with Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian on the disabled list.
Deolis Guerra, J.C. Ramirez and Fernando Salas did the job from the bullpen on Sunday in a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees. Salas picked up the save.
Both Guerra and Ramirez have a chance to prove that they belong in the Angels' plans for next season.
"They are part of the bullpen answers right now," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Anytime someone gets an opportunity and they are throwing the ball well, obviously they make their own role, especially in the bullpen. Both those guys are doing a great job, and hopefully we'll get some more leads to hold and see how they continue to do."
The Blue Jays have added a left-hander to their bullpen for the Angels' series after Aaron Loup was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to replace starter Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez was sent to Class A Dunedin in a move that will limit his innings, which are at a career-high 156 1/3. He is 12-2 with a 2.99 ERA and will return to pitch against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 31.
He allowed five runs (four earned) in four innings in a no decision Saturday against the Indians, a game won 6-5 by the Blue Jays.
Manager John Gibbons said that Sanchez has showed no signs of fatigue.
"I haven't seen anything to indicate that," Gibbons said. "He looks the same and the results look the same."
The Blue Jays are trying to protect the 24-year-old's arm but his performance has complicated the issue.
"It's not easy," Gibbons said. "Nobody wants to do it. We hope we're doing the right thing. We think we are and he's on board with it."
Dickey is 6-3 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 games, including 10 starts, in his career against the Angels.
Skaggs will be making his sixth start of the season for the Angels. He is 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA in two career starts against the Blue Jays, both in 2014.
Skaggs won his only start at Rogers Center when he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and no walks in eight-plus innings.