OAKLAND -- Left-hander J.A. Happ is likely two starts away from making his long-awaited return to the Major Leagues.
Happ has been out of action since May 8 when he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings. The veteran starter also sustained a right knee injury on the play, which has kept him out of action for the past two months.
The 30-year-old began a rehab assignment on July 13 and the Blue Jays are expected to use the entire 30 days before he has to be removed from the disabled list.
"Happ was just OK in his last [start] so I don't know what his time frame is, but he's not too far away, probably a couple of more starts," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "One or two at the most I would think barring any setbacks."
Happ surrendered six runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings during his last outing for Triple-A Buffalo. He has allowed seven runs in two starts for the Bisons and previously made an appearance for Bluefield and Class-A Dunedin.
Gibbons also said that he doesn't expect either Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek to return before September. Both right-handers underwent Tommy John surgery last season and are currently pitching in the Minor Leagues.
Amid trade rumors, Melky rests sore legs
OAKLAND -- Melky Cabrera was left out of the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Tuesday night, but the decision was based on lingering soreness in his legs and not because of the looming non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Cabrera has been attempting to play through discomfort in each of his legs since the beginning of the season. It has affected his range in the outfield, his power at the plate and there haven't been any indications the issues will go away any time soon.
The 28-year-old received the day off against the Athletics while utilityman Emilio Bonifacio started at left field in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum for defensive purposes.
"Melky's still not running very good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "In the games we have fly-ball guys like [Mark Buehrle], they have to flag them down out there. We're looking for wins, man, they have to flag them down.
"He might be moving a little better than he was, but he's still not moving very good."
Earlier on Tuesday, a report by USA Today suggested that the Blue Jays were aggressively trying to trade Cabrera prior to Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. The probability of any deal always seemed unlikely considering the condition of Cabrera's legs and the fact that he is owed an additional $8 million next season.
Gibbons' public statement would seem to rule out that possibility even further as it wouldn't make a lot of sense to question the health of a player on the verge of being traded. The more likely scenario is that the Blue Jays will hold onto Cabrera for the remainder of the season and hope for a return to form next year.
But there's also no real guarantee that Cabrera's leg issues will be much better in 2013. The native of the Dominican Republic went for multiple MRIs earlier this season which only revealed irritation and with the exception of various strength exercises there isn't a whole lot that can be done.
One option could be to part ways with Adam Lind at the end of the season and start Cabrera at designated hitter next year. The only way to justify that move, though, is if Cabrera can improve on his woeful .684 OPS. The search for answers continues, but for the most part it's just guess work on how much Cabrera's legs might improve over time.
"We don't know," Gibbons said. "You hope it's just a case of resting him, rehab, but you never know for sure. The strength and stretching, stuff he's doing. At the beginning of Spring Training, he was moving fine. It wasn't like any injury caused it, just boom, it caught up with him awful quick."
Gibbons says Johnson dealing with knee injury
OAKLAND -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons revealed on Tuesday afternoon that right-hander Josh Johnson has been dealing with a minor knee injury this season.
Johnson apparently has tendinitis in his left knee, but it's not an injury that has been bad enough to warrant a trip to the 15-day disabled list or require an extended period of time off.
The injury came to light when Gibbons was asked about Johnson's struggles this season, but it doesn't appear to be a major cause of concern for the organization.
"He's not tipping pitches at least that you can see," Gibbons said. "He's had some knee issues, his landing leg.
"He gets a little tendinitis, nothing major that you can't perform, but when you land on it if you get that little stinger. We're trying to figure [out why he's struggling] too."
The vast majority of Johnson's problems this season have come when he is pitching out of the stretch. He has allowed the opposition to hit .380 with a .441 on-base percentage with runners on compared to a .225 average and .281 OBP with the bases empty.
A lot of the issues have been related to poor command. Johnson either has a tendency to nibble around the zone and miss the plate while also throwing a high number of pitches or get way too much of the strike zone while leaving the ball up in the zone.
The club has attempted to experiment with a number of different techniques to solve the problems, but so far nothing has really worked on a consistent basis and it has resulted in Johnson having a 6.08 ERA in 14 starts this season.
"They've tinkered with trying to move him to the first-base side of the rubber to make it a little bit easier to get to that part of the plate consistently," Gibbons said. "We need him to start winning some games."