TORONTO -- Melky Cabrera is expected to return in the near future after appearing in his first game for Triple-A Buffalo on Friday night.
Cabrera began his rehab assignment last week for Class A Dunedin and has since played three games for Double-A New Hampshire. He entered play on Friday hitting .294 (5-for-17) with one homer and two RBIs in five rehab games.
The 28-year-old has been out since June 28 with left knee tendinitis, but discomfort in both of his legs has been a lingering problem since the season began. He might not get back to 100 percent this season, but there has been at least some improvement since being shut down.
"The reports I've gotten are that he's running better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I'm not sure if he's running like he used to, but definitely better."
The Blue Jays will face a tough roster decision when Cabrera is eventually activated from the 15-day disabled list. The club currently only has a three-man bench and it would seem unlikely that Emilio Bonifacio, Mark DeRosa or Josh Thole gets removed from the 25-man roster.
That will force the club to drop a reliever from its eight-man bullpen. Right-hander Neil Wagner has an option remaining on his contract and could be sent to Buffalo, but left-hander Juan Perez would have to pass through waivers before he is eligible for a Minor League assignment.
Complicating matters even more is that right-handed reliever Sergio Santos is also nearing a return. Santos struck out the side in his first appearance for Buffalo on Thursday night, but likely will need to work on back-to-back days for the Bisons before a promotion becomes a realistic possibility.
Santos would have to be activated from the disabled list before his potential 30-day rehab assignment comes to an end on Aug. 2. If the club opts to wait until then, it's possible a move at the non-waiver Trade Deadline would open up another spot on the roster.
"I'm not sure," Gibbons said when asked for Santos' timeline. "These guys here are all pitching good, so they've bought us some time. We want to make sure he's good and ready."