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Injured Blue Jays pitchers making progress

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Chad Jenkins is nearing his return to the mound following a prolonged absence because of a sore right shoulder.

Jenkins hasn't pitched since Feb. 24 against the Orioles, but he played catch Thursday morning and could be in line for a bullpen session Friday.

The 25-year-old is expected to start the season at Triple-A Buffalo but could become a valuable depth option if anything happens to Toronto's starting five.

"Definitely felt good the last two days and today looked good playing catch, stretching it out at probably 150 feet," pitching coach Pete Walker said Thursday morning. "Tomorrow we'll get him off the mound, and if he recovers well the next day, progress him and get him moving."

Walker also provided updates on Casey Janssen and Sergio Santos, who are expected to play a pivotal role at the back end of Toronto's bullpen this season.

Janssen, who has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game, felt fine after throwing his second bullpen session of the spring Wednesday. The 31-year-old is set to throw another bullpen Saturday and could advance to pitching against live hitters relatively soon.

Santos was expected to pitch Saturday against Detroit but has now been pushed back until Tuesday. He had a recent MRI because of a sore right triceps muscle, but the results did not reveal any structural damage.

"I think it was just to kind of make sure everything was fine," Walker said. "Everything checked out good. We're just giving him one more day. He wanted to play catch today; he was disappointed he couldn't play catch today. He said he felt great; we'll let him play catch tomorrow and go from there."

Right-hander Dustin McGowan also received clearance to continue his rehab after feeling no ill effects from Tuesday's bullpen session.

"He has felt good, felt good again today playing catch," Walker said. "In his words, he felt great. I'm very encouraged with that, and we'll take it day by day.

"He was beaming again. He is playing catch, letting it go a little bit, feeling good. I think we're all pretty encouraged about that."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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