Lawrie, Janssen, McGowan all make progress

Lawrie, Janssen, McGowan all make progress

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' walking wounded continue to make progress from their various injuries, and there's hope the club will be almost completely healthy by Opening Day.

Brett Lawrie, who is out with a strained muscle in his right rib cage, played catch Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury earlier this month. The Blue Jays are still optimistic that Lawrie will be able to appear in a game in a few days, or at least the beginning of next week.

"We don't know exactly, but he'll take some ground balls tomorrow," manager John Gibbons said. "He felt good when he played catch today, no pain."

Closer Casey Janssen also took another positive step Wednesday by throwing one inning in a Minor League game. He faced five batters and reported no lingering effects from his surgically-repaired right shoulder.

Janssen is now scheduled to appear in the Blue Jays' game Friday against the Red Sox and will need at least a few appearances before getting cleared to start the year in Toronto.

Right-hander Dustin McGowan joined Janssen at the club's Minor League complex Wednesday morning by throwing an inning of his own. McGowan struck out the first batter he faced and then retired the next two in his first appearance in a game since being shutdown more than a year ago.

"McGowan was lights-out, and Casey threw good," Gibbons said. "They both threw really well over there."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for 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.