Third baseman Josh Donaldson is closing in on a return to the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup and the former American League most valuable player's path to the roster could include a stint this weekend in Coca-Cola Field.
The Blue Jays are pondering an injury rehab stint for Donaldson with the Buffalo Bisons perhaps as soon as Friday night, Toronto manager John Gibbons told reporters prior to Wednesday's matinee against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field.
The Bisons are playing the Rochester Red Wings at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. All the games will feature the Herd playing as the "Buffalo Wings" and meeting the "Rochester Plates," with both teams wearing their specially designed uniforms to honor the local food delicacy of their city.
Donaldson, who has been dealing with tightness in his left calf, is expected to do some drills and run the bases Thursday in Toronto during the Blue Jays' off day to determine if he is ready to test the leg and get a few at-bats in Triple-A.
"If everything goes well, he may go to Buffalo to play in a game or two," Gibbons said. "Everything depends on how tomorrow goes.”
Gibbons said it's not likely the Jays would simply put Donaldson back on the big-league roster.
"It’s starting to drag a little bit now,” Gibbons said of Donaldson’s latest DL stint, which hit 14 games on Wednesday. "It’s been some days. You’d also like to game test it too before you throw him out there."
Donaldson has not played since leaving the May 28 game in Boston. He also was on the disabled list earlier in the season, missing 18 games due to shoulder inflammation.
Donaldson, 32, has played just 36 games this season, batting .234 with five homers and 16 RBIs. He was at .270-33-78 last season. He signed a one-year, $23-million contract with the Jays in January, a record for a deal to avoid arbitration, but is likely to be one of the hot commodities in the game approaching the trade deadline.
Donaldson was the American League MVP in 2015 after batting .297 and setting career highs with 41 homers and 123 RBIs as the Jays won the American League East for the first time since 1993 and came within two wins of the World Series. He finished fourth in the voting in 2016 (.284-37-99) as Toronto again advanced to the AL Championship Series before losing to Cleveland.