Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes is eager to get to extended spring training soon and start playing in games to test his sprained left ankle.
On the 60-day disabled list with an injury that is expected to take three months to heal, Reyes is doing more each day with the hopes of beginning a rehab assignment in a couple of weeks. Manager John Gibbons believes that timeline is feasible as long as Reyes continues progressing the way he has been lately.
"It's coming along. Some stuff is a little bit shaky still," Reyes said Tuesday. "No setbacks. The ankle's getting stronger every day. It's not that far away."
He now has a brace he plans to wear for the remainder of his career to stabilize the troublesome ankle. He doesn't believe it will affect his speed on the basepaths or ability to move in the field.
"I'm still going to have my stuff. I'm very confident in myself that I'm going to come back stronger," he said. "I feel that if I'm not 100 per cent, but if I feel like I can help this club at 85-90 per cent, I'm going to be on the field."
Reyes has been swinging the bat for about a week and worked on cutting Tuesday at AT&T Park. He said he still must be successful running the bases on back-to-back days and going side to side to field groundballs and turn double plays before he ready to begin games.
"Probably in a couple of weeks I would think," Gibbons said of Reyes beginning a rehab assignment. "He's moving around now, he's doing all the agility stuff. He's moving good, but there's still a little limp in there. You can notice it a little bit. We want to make sure he's good and ready."
Reyes was injured sliding into second base in an April 12 game at Kansas City. Each day, he evaluates how he is feeling and how much to push himself while listening to the plan in place from the training staff.
Reyes, who turns 30 on June 11, is further along in his recovery than he expected.
"Quicker than I thought, it's not even two months," he said. "It was a bad ankle sprain."
Acquired from Miami in a 12-player trade last November, the four-time All-Star is batting .395 with one home run and five RBIs. He hopes to be able to help the Blue Jays immediately once back later in the summer.
"Reyes is one of the premier players in the league. You could see in the first couple of weeks he was doing everything," Gibbons said. "It wasn't easy (to lose him). We've adjusted since he's been gone and those other guys have done a solid job, but we still look forward to getting him back, that's for sure."
Also Tuesday, an MRI on injured pitcher Ramon Ortiz's right elbow showed no significant damage. The 40-year-old Ortiz, 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA, left Sunday's game in tears in San Diego after straining his pitching elbow and went on the disabled list.
"It's a fragile business," Gibbons said. "You've got to be healthy to play it."
The Blue Jays are cheering for Ortiz to get back on a mound and, eventually, finish his career on his own terms — rather than being forced out by an injury.
"Pretty good news, no tear from what they saw yet. There's still swelling in there," Gibbons said. "Once the swelling's out they'll re-examine it and see where he's at. Great news. It shocked me, quick healer. He's still in a lot of pain. He's been around a long time and he's been healthy. He's never experienced anything like this as far as I know. Hopefully it's something that he can heal from."