Notes: Burnett's shoulder improving

Notes: Burnett's shoulder improving

BOSTON -- A.J. Burnett is simply following orders. On Friday, the injured Blue Jays right-hander sat inside the visitors' dugout at Fenway Park, fresh off his second straight day of throwing and unsure what his upcoming schedule had in store.

"I don't even know," shrugged Burnett, who has been on the disabled list with a right shoulder issue since July 1. "All I know is every day I'm throwing. So tomorrow will probably be around 90 feet. I know it feels really good, though."

Originally, the Blue Jays announced that Burnett was likely to miss three or four weeks when he landed on the DL a second time with a shoulder injury. That meant the club was voicing optimism that the right-hander could potentially rejoin the rotation before the end of the month. Now, it appears more likely that Burnett won't be back on Toronto's staff until early August.

"It's too early to tell," said Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, when asked if Burnett could be back before the end of July. "He's only playing catch right now."

On Thursday, Burnett, who is 5-6 with a 4.31 ERA in 15 starts this year, played catch for the first time since landing back on the DL, making 25 throws in a brief session on flat ground. On Friday, he said he threw roughly 25 times from a distance of 60 feet before adding another 25 tosses from 75 feet.

So far, the rounds of catch have been pain-free, but that doesn't mean Burnett's ready to get back on a mound just yet. In fact, the schedule that Toronto's medical staff has coordinated with arm specialist Dr. James Andrews doesn't have the right-hander back on a mound for another two weeks -- possibly sooner if Burnett progresses quicker than anticipated.

After landing on the 15-day DL with the same shoulder injury on June 13, Burnett missed the minimum amount of time and was activated for a start on June 28. The only issue was that, according to a team source, the pitcher was still experiencing pain in his shoulder prior to that four-inning outing.

"No comment," said Burnett, who was placed on the DL three days after that start. "I'm not going to get into all that."

The Blue Jays, who signed Burnett to a five-year deal worth $55 million two offseasons ago, will want to make sure he is experiencing no pain before activating him from the DL again.

No worries: Manager John Gibbons didn't express much concern about Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who struggled with his control in a 7-4 loss to Boston on Thursday. Halladay uncharacteristically walked four batters and his fastball consistently registered in the 88-91 mph range.

"He's been pitching most of the year around there," Gibbons said. "He occasionally pumps it up to 93 [mph], depending on what he wants to do. When he started making pitches, he started getting them out. That's the name of the game. It's not always, 'What's the guy's velocity?' It's, 'Is he making pitches?'"

Downs update: Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs, who has a 2.36 ERA this year, was walking with a considerable amount of tape around his right ankle on Friday. One day earlier, the left-hander had the foot bruised by an eighth-inning line drive off the bat of Boston's Dustin Pedroia.

"I saw him earlier and he said he feels fine," said Gibbons, who added that Downs was available out of the bullpen on Friday. "I told him to go out, move around, play some catch and let me know later."

The flip side: Catcher Gregg Zaun decided to try something knew against Boston's Tim Wakefield on Thursday night. Zaun, who is a switch-hitter, entered the game 3-for-16 in his career as a left-handed batter against the knuckleball pitcher. Zaun hit from the right side vs. Wakefield but went 0-for-2 in the experiment.

"I felt more comfortable and saw the ball better," said Zaun, who joked that he hadn't hit right-handed against a righty since Little League. "There might be some guys who do [switch sides against a knuckleballer] just because they don't want to mess up their left-handed swings."

Did you know? The home run that Alex Rios belted in the sixth inning on Thursday night marked the 18th blast of the year for Toronto's right fielder. That set a new career high for Rios, who tallied 17 homers last season.

Coming up: Toronto right-hander Dustin McGowan (5-4, 4.65 ERA) is slated to take the hill when the Blue Jays face the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at Fenway Park. Boston will counter will righty Daisuke Matsuzaka (10-6, 3.84).

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.