ST. PETERSBURG -- The long wait is over and the Blue Jays have finally welcomed Jose Reyes back into the fold.
Reyes was activated off the 60-day disabled list following Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to the Rays. In order to make room on the roster, infielder Munenori Kawasaki was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, while right-hander Ramon Ortiz was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
The 30-year-old Reyes arrived in Tampa Bay on Tuesday evening and is expected to hit leadoff in Wednesday's series finale. It took a little over two months, but the four-time All-Star is back to potentially give the Blue Jays another spark.
"I'm very excited about it, because it was two months that I couldn't do what I love to do," said Reyes, who missed 66 games. "Now I know I'll be on the field again, around my teammates. The way the team is playing, I want to be a part of the exciting thing that's happening right now."
Reyes had been out of action since he severely sprained his left ankle while stealing second base in a game against Kansas City on April 12. It was a gruesome injury, but Reyes will return ahead of schedule after initially being ruled out until the All-Star break.
The Dominican native completed his Minor League rehab on Monday night in Triple-A Buffalo. He played four games for the Bisons and an additional three with Class A Dunedin before being given the green light to return.
Reyes hit .414 during those seven games, with a double, two RBIs, two stolen bases and six runs scored. He said everything went as expected, and the 11-year veteran doesn't anticipate having any problems transitioning back to the big leagues.
"All four games that I played in Triple-A, I felt very comfortable," Reyes said. "Just doing what I do, get on base, running a lot, stealing bases. I played defense good, turned double plays. I did everything that I'll do here when I start playing in games tomorrow."
The Blue Jays went 34-32 during Reyes' absence, but for a long time it looked like the record would be a lot worse than that. Toronto recently salvaged its slow start to the year by reeling off an 11-game winning streak that came to an end on Monday night in Tampa Bay.
Toronto has still only experienced 10 games with Reyes in the lineup, but since the club was able to stay afloat during his absence, the hope is that it will now be able to make the next step and turn into serious contenders.
"When that happened to me I felt bad, because by that time we hadn't played too good," Reyes said of the injury. "But now it's different, that's why I want to be a part of this now. I'm very happy to be back here and playing with my boys."