House starting physical activity; catch on horizon

Reliever working through mental hurdles of returning to mound after getting hit with ball

House starting physical activity; catch on horizon

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays reliever TJ House, who was struck in the head by a line drive in a Grapefruit League game against the Tigers last Friday, is taking his first small steps toward returning to action.

While the team was off Wednesday, House rode an exercise bike for seven minutes. Before Thursday's game against the Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, he ran lightly on the treadmill for five minutes. If all goes well, he could be allowed to play some catch.

Baby steps.

"It's always just a slow progression," House said. "From here on out, there's not really a timetable. It's just day to day. If something [bad] happens, you move back. If it's good, you continue to move forward. I'm just excited to being kind of active, sweating a little bit, being back out there."

And that's only half the battle.

"Physically, that's a hurdle," House said. "But mentally is going to be the biggest one -- standing there and facing a hitter again."

If House sits at his locker and looks to his right, he can see left-hander J.A. Happ, who suffered a skull fracture when he was struck by a line drive in May 2013. To his left is right-hander Francisco Liriano, beaned by a line drive in the American League Division Series last fall. He's talked to both about their experiences.

"I just asked what their thought process was," House said. "Those guys took it to the point where, hey, get back out there and take some PFPs. Have them hit some balls back at you. See how you feel, how your body's going to react, and go from there.'"

House said he flinched recently with he heard a sudden loud noise at his hotel.

"You just have to go back out there and play and hear the crack of the bat," he continued. "You can't think about it. Go have fun. You've got to get back on the horse, and I'm excited to do that."

House has even watched the video that shows him getting hit.

"I wanted to see if my recollection of what I remember right after was the same," he explained. "It wasn't. I thought I had fallen on my butt and tried to get up, but that wasn't the case.

"Something like that is scary. But I definitely don't feel like I took one off the skull not too long ago. I know they're going to take it slow. I totally get it. But I feel great, and I'm ready to get back out there."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Josh Donaldson (right calf) and second baseman Devon Travis (right knee) both batted but did not run at the Englebert Complex on Thursday, the same program they went through on Tuesday.

"They both came out of that pretty good," said manager John Gibbons, adding that he didn't know when either will be ready to play in a Grapefruit League game. "I don't think it's too far off, but we'll see."

• Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna (Team Mexico) and catcher Russell Martin (Team Canada) are back in camp after participating in the World Baseball Classic.

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