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Jays' Eckstein, McDonald recovering

Eckstein, McDonald recovering

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TORONTO -- For at least one day, a pair of Blue Jays shortstops avoided a trip to the disabled list. David Eckstein and John McDonald have both recovered considerably from the respective injuries that forced each of them to exit Tuesday's game against the Rays.

On Wednesday, McDonald was off crutches and hitting baseballs off a tee, sporting a slight limp after severely spraining his right ankle. Eckstein, who is nursing a sore right hip flexor, underwent an MRI at a local hospital, but was available off the Jays' bench on Wednesday, if absolutely necessary.

Needless to say, the news concerning the shortstops was positive for the Blue Jays, who initially believed at least one -- if not both -- of the players would require a stint on the DL. Such a move could still be coming, though Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said the club would know more on Thursday.

"We're going to give Johnny Mac another day and see if he can fight through it," Ricciardi said on Wednesday. "If he can, then hopefully we won't have to DL him. So we'll play a man short tonight.

"I don't think we can wait any longer. I really don't want to play with 24 guys for more than one day."

As a precautionary measure, Toronto purchased the contract of infielder Jorge Velandia from Triple-A Syracuse to add some depth to the infield. For the time being, Jays utility man Marco Scutaro will man short, but Velandia provides a backup solution.

In order to clear room on the active roster for Velandia, the Jays optioned struggling outfielder Adam Lind to Triple-A. Shannon Stewart had recently garnered the regular job in left field, leaving little playing time for Lind, who was 1-for-19 at the plate since being promoted on April 26.

"Velandia takes Lind's spot," Ricciardi explained. "Because we have to have someone here. Lind's just got to play. He's a young kid and he has to get at-bats. It's not going to do him any good to sit up here and not play."

It's also not going to do the Jays any good to have McDonald unavailable for too long, either. McDonald was on crutches as recently as Wednesday morning, but he was walking fine prior to Toronto's game against Tampa Bay. He added that he hadn't tried running yet, but McDonald wants desperately to avoid the DL.

"That's a last resort," McDonald said. "With an opportunity to play right now, I think going on the DL is the last thing I want. The more minutes and hours that J..P. and [manager John Gibbons] will give me to get healthy and get back on the field I'll take.

"But I understand that they've got a lot of other things to think about besides my health."

McDonald injured his ankle while making a slide catch of a grounder off the bat of Rays' outfielder Gabe Gross in the sixth inning on Tuesday. Initially, as McDonald lay on the turf, grabbing the back of his foot, he believed he had broken his ankle on the ill-fated play.

The source of the injury was on the outside of McDonald's ankle, which swelled up and led to numbness in his toes. Those issues subsided as the evening went on and McDonald -- Toronto's primary backup at shortstop -- felt even more improved on Wednesday.

"I thought I might've broke it," McDonald said. "We did a lot of treatment last night and it started to feel better. I got all the sensation back in my toes and I can move my foot around. It felt better this morning, but I don't think it's necessarily where we want it to be yet."

Eckstein injured his hip on a diving attempt in the third inning and was sent to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Wednesday for further tests. Ricciardi said the MRI on Eckstein's hip revealed no serious issues and the Jays' GM indicated that the shortstop might already be available to play.

"Eckstein, in a pinch, could probably do something," Ricciardi said. "It's nothing really serious. He's pretty much day-to-day, so we're going to try to see if we can keep him playing."

If McDonald or Eckstein did need a trip to the DL, the Jays would likely recall someone from Triple-A such as Joe Inglett, who is versatile enough to help out in the infield and the outfield. In the meantime, Toronto is confident that the 33-year-old Velandia can help fill in.

Velandia was acquired by the Jays after spending Spring Training in camp with the Pirates. He's had big league stints with the Rays, Mets, A's and Padres in parts of seven seasons, dating back to 1997. This season, Velandia was hitting .287 with three home runs and 12 RBIs through 28 games with Syracuse.

"He's a good little infielder," said Gibbons, who managed Velandia with Triple-A Norfolk in the Mets' system in 2001. "He's solid. He knows how to play. He's a steady glove guy, but he's turned himself into a guy who can handle the bat pretty good."

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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