TORONTO -- Right-hander Drew Hutchison is set to resume a throwing program on Friday.
Hutchison has been out since June 15 with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was expected to be out for six weeks and the latest rehab plan puts him on schedule for that timeline.
The 21-year-old made 11 starts for the Blue Jays this season and went 5-3 with a 4.60 ERA. Manager John Farrell said it was premature to speculate on when Hutchison will be able to make a return to the mound.
Toronto also got some more encouraging news on right-hander Brandon Morrow.
The 27-year-old threw 30 pitches in live batting practice at the club's Minor League complex in Florida on Wednesday and as expected has been cleared to make his first official rehab start this weekend for Class-A Dunedin.
"Now it's just a matter of taking the next progressive step, which would be a rehab start Sunday with Dunedin," Farrell said. "In just talking with him this afternoon, he's going to need repetition to get his command back and his release point re-established. Physically, a good day for him."
Morrow has been out since June 13 with a strained left oblique muscle. He is 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings this season.
Arencibia fractures hand, out six weeks
TORONTO -- Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia will be out for at least six weeks after fracturing his right hand during Wednesday night's 16-0 loss to Oakland.
Arencibia suffered the injury during the second inning when A's third baseman Brandon Inge fouled a ball off his bare hand. X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture that will not require surgery but still involves a lengthy rehab.
"I knew as soon as it hit me, I knew we had a problem," Arencibia said. "It kind of went numb and I couldn't really feel much in my hand. It started turning purple and I knew it was not going to be a good ending."
Arencibia had his hand and lower arm heavily wrapped after the game and will have a cast put on Thursday morning. The estimated six-week time frame would keep the second-year catcher out until the first week of September.
That would be close to the end of the season, but after the game Arencibia did not sound like a person whose 2012 campaign was in jeopardy. The native of Miami insisted he would make a return later this year and remained optimistic his teammates will be able to fill the void during his absence.
"I drink a lot of milk, so I feel that at some point the bone's going to heal and I'll be back," Arencibia said. "I'm going to write down some notes and remember how I'm feeling now so that when I get back I don't miss a beat. Hopefully we're in contention and playing meaningful baseball."
Arencibia's injury is another serious blow to a team that has been hampered by injuries for the past two months. Toronto currently has 11 players on the disabled list and has had 13 on the year.
The injury woes began in June when starters Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek were all placed on the DL. Since then, the injuries have also begun to affect the position players, as Jose Bautista was shut down last week with a sprained left wrist.
Despite the number of injuries, Blue Jays manager John Farrell said his club's situation isn't that much different from ones other teams have encountered.
"There are teams around the league that have had equal number of injuries and to important players," Farrell said. "To compare to anybody else, that's fruitless in my mind. We have to work with what's currently available to us and not make any excuses for it.
"I think we've done an excellent job to date. ... We still have quite a few games left to play, the schedule's not going to get any easier and we're certainly not going to use this as an excuse from the outcomes of the games going forward."
Veteran Jeff Mathis will now step into a starting role while utilityman Yan Gomes assumes the backup catcher position. Top prospect Travis d'Arnaud would have received consideration for a callup, but his season is likely already over because of a left knee injury.
Arencibia entered play on Wednesday riding an impressive hot streak. He was hitting .357 (15-for-42) with four doubles, five home runs and 12 RBIs in his past 13 games. He also had homered in three consecutive games.
The injury alone would have been tough for Arencibia to deal, but he says it becomes even more challenging considering the timing and everything else that has gone on with the club this year.
"I was trying to do my best to fill in for Jose because obviously he went down," said Arencibia, who is hitting .242 with 16 home runs this year. "This team is resilient and I know that they will find a way to come back and bounce back with or without me. Now, it's without me for some time. They'll be fine, there's 25 guys going to be here and they're all going to be pulling together and they're going to figure out a way to win."
Blue Jays encouraged after Santos' surgery
TORONTO -- Sergio Santos underwent successful surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday afternoon and is expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training.
Santos was shut down in April because of inflammation in his right shoulder. He attempted to rehab the injury but the pain never went away.
Toronto's Opening Day closer will now begin post-surgery rehab in 10 days after the procedure went well and didn't reveal any additional damage.
"Some wear and tear in the joint, no specific tears of any kind," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of the surgery, which was centered around the labrum. "So, it was a general cleanout, and based on his findings, probably the best-case scenario given surgery was required."
Toronto typically has its pitchers begin their offseason throwing program in early-to-mid December. Santos is expected to be recovered by then and shouldn't have any problems getting ready for the start of the season.
The Blue Jays feared a more serious problem could be found during the medical procedure. The fact that there was only some fraying around the labrum and not a tear means Santos should be able to avoid another long-term setback.
"You're always waiting with anticipation to find out truly what's going on there and you don't know until they go in there with a scope," Farrell said. "I think in this case, Sergio got the best news that he could have under the circumstances."
Santos was acquired from the White Sox in an offseason deal for prospect Nestor Molina. Santos appeared in just six games for the Blue Jays this season and allowed five runs in five innings with two saves.
Escobar a late scratch with back tightness
TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar was a late scratch from the Blue Jays' lineup on Wednesday night because of tightness in his back.
Escobar was listed to play shortstop and hit seventh against the A's. He was removed less than 90 minutes before first pitch and replaced by veteran Omar Vizquel.
The 29-year-old Escobar has been mentioned in trade rumors for the past week but Wednesday's decision had nothing to do with a potential deal.
"He felt some tightness in his lower back during batting practice," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said after his club's 16-0 loss to Oakland. "Precautionary, made the move to withhold him, didn't want to push it.
"Whether or not he's available tomorrow, we'll check and see in the morning when he comes in but that was the reason for tonight."
Escobar is guaranteed $5 million in 2013 and the club also has a pair of team options after that season valued at an additional $10 million. The Cuban native could potentially be available prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline with prospect Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the wings at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Through 93 games this season, Escobar is hitting .255 with six home runs and 34 RBIs. That's a dropoff from last year, when he hit .290 with a .369 on-base percentage and 38 extra-base hits.