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Ailing Blue Jays on the mend

Ailing Blue Jays on the mend

NEW YORK -- Some good news finally made its way to the Blue Jays' clubhouse on Thursday, after three players with separate health concerns were questionable for Toronto's tilt against the Yankees.

As it turned out, outfielder Matt Stairs, infielder Marco Scutaro and starter Dustin McGowan were all able to make it onto the field.

In addition, on Monday, third baseman Scott Rolen is scheduled to have a pin removed from his broken right middle finger, though he could remain sidelined until late April or early May.

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Stairs started in left field and was slotted into the second spot of the batting order in his first game appearance since March 23. The 40-year-old outfielder has been nursing a sore left hip flexor, but manager John Gibbons said that Stairs has healed enough to begin playing again.

On Wednesday night, Scutaro -- Toronto's temporary replacement for Rolen at third -- was struck by a pitch on his right hand. His middle finger was bruised, but an X-ray revealed no structural damage, allowing the Jays to keep him in the lineup. Losing Scutaro would have been a big blow for Toronto with Rolen on the 15-day disabled list.

"That wouldn't have been real good," Gibbons said. "But he's fine. They X-rayed it [on Wednesday] night and it was negative, so he's in there. He's good."

Prior to Wednesday's game, the Blue Jays sent McGowan -- the No. 3 starter -- back to the team's hotel after he arrived at the ballpark with flu-like symptoms. Gibbons said that McGowan, who went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA last season for the Jays, was feeling better, and he took the mound against the Yankees as planned on Thursday.

"He feels good right now," Gibbons said. "He had the stomach bug, but he's fine. We had that going around in Spring Training, but I don't know if it's the same thing."

Rolen -- acquired from the Cardinals in the January trade that sent third baseman Troy Glaus to St. Louis -- sustained the fracture in his finger during a routine fielding drill on March 23. One day later he had surgery to have a pin inserted to stabilize the mangled digit.

Even after having the pin removed, it will take a few weeks for Rolen to make his way back to Toronto's lineup. Considering that the tip of the finger is the source of the issues, it's uncertain how long it will take for him to be able to throw a baseball comfortably again.

"Once he gets [the pin removed], they'll clear him to do as much baseball activity as he can," Gibbons said. "Plus, it's going to depend on how tender it is trying to throw a baseball. When he's hitting, he might get a little jolt early on, but that's not going to be the problem."

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

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