TORONTO -- Speculation turned into reality at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday night, when Corey Koskie made his long-awaited return from the disabled list. Toronto's third baseman spent nine weeks recovering from a broken thumb and torn ligament, an ailment that cost him 58 games. Koskie's totals in games played and at-bats have progressively declined since 2001, but the veteran learned long ago not to dwell on things he can't control. "The 'what if' scenario is no good. I learned that through life in general," Koskie said on Tuesday. "What if, what if? What if a lot of stuff happened? I was taught, 'Don't cry over split milk.'
"You can't really go back. And the best sight is hindsight. There are a lot of 'what if' scenarios, but we're never going to know because they're never going to happen." Koskie tested things out with a week's worth of rehab games, batting .240 (6-for-25) with Triple-A Syracuse. He said that the Minor League experience helped settle some doubts -- even if he'll still have to work his way back to full speed. "I swung at some bad pitches and swung through a bunch of balls," he said. "I got jammed a couple times, but as the week wore on, the pain lessened when I took a bad swing. By the last couple days, I didn't really feel anything. "I've been out of the game for two months, and playing at the big league level, stuff happens a lot quicker. Coming back when everyone else is in midseason form should be challenging. We'll see how it goes." One factor makes things even more interesting: Rookie Aaron Hill thrived in Koskie's absence, setting up a dilemma for Toronto manager John Gibbons. With Koskie and Shea Hillenbrand assured of regular playing time, the Blue Jays have to decide who gets more at-bats -- Hill or Eric Hinske. Hinske got the nod in Tuesday's game, but Gibbons warned that things may change from day to day. "You've just got to check that lineup each day," Gibbons said. "Corey's going to be in there. We'll be able to rest guys -- make sure they're good and rested every now and then." Bumps and bruises: Vernon Wells said he's amply recovered from two leg injuries he sustained this weekend -- one self-inflicted and one by chance. Wells hit his own heel with a bat early in the weekend, then fouled a pitch off his shin on Sunday. "It was just a bruise. It was kind of funny," said Wells of the first injury, which happened in the batter's box during a game. "I was sitting there, swinging the weighted bat, and I hit my heel. There were people sitting behind me, but I wanted to cry out there. "I was standing there, thinking, 'That hurt.' But I didn't want anybody behind me to realize what I just did." In Sunday's series finale, the pain was too great to hide. Wells fouled a pitch off his shin and had to leave the game early in order to get some precautionary X-rays. The X-rays came back negative, indicating a contusion, and the center fielder said he can run well enough to get back on the field. "I've hit it a couple times before, but that was definitely the hardest," said Wells, who wasn't wearing a protective brace. "I always [wear one] after I hit it, but I get fed up with keeping up with it and take it off. And then I do it again. I'm going to try to keep it on from now on."
On the side: Roy Halladay threw his second side session on Tuesday, making some progress after breaking his tibia right before the All-Star break. The Jays think his return could be just around the corner.
"The best-case scenario might be sometime next week," said Gibbons. "We've got to see how he's moving around. He's feeling good, but he's not moving around the field -- covering bases and that kind of thing. We've got to make sure he can do that."
"Doc is a guy who wants to get better. He's basically willing himself to get healthy," said J.P. Ricciardi, Toronto's general manager. "I will say this: Our medical staff and our trainers have done an unbelievable job of really making sure he's getting everything and pushing him. And he's pushing everybody. Really, the credit goes to all those guys."
Pitching switch: The Blue Jays announced a change in their rotation on Tuesday, slotting Scott Downs into the spot previously occupied by Pete Walker. Gibbons said he likes Walker better in long relief, which is where he'll stay for the rest of the season.
"He's so valuable to us out there. He can start, but I think he's better suited to that role," said Gibbons. "Downs pitches like a starter. He can finesse his way through some things. We've just got to build him up a little bit."
Gibbons also said it won't be a one-start audition. He expects Downs to stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future -- especially with Halladay out and Ted Lilly nursing a sore arm. Even with that decision, the Jays are unsure about who will start Saturday's game against Texas.
Quotable: "It was tough watching the games on TV, but it gets even tougher when you're watching the game from the dugout. It wasn't an easy two months." -- Koskie, discussing his time on the sidelines
Coming up: The Blue Jays and Angels will meet again on Wednesday, pitting Toronto's Josh Towers (7-8, 4.79 ERA) against Bartolo Colon (12-6, 3.78 ERA).
|"The best-case scenario might be sometime next week. We've got to see how he's moving around."|
-- John Gibbons,|
on injured starter Roy Halladay
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.