Cecil, Downs working way back to Jays

Cecil, Downs working way back to Jays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Cecil is set to rejoin the Blue Jays' rotation and closer Scott Downs is one step closer to returning from the disabled list. Both pitchers took part in fielding practice and threw in bullpen sessions on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

Cecil, who has been nursing a sore left knee, ran through various drills to test his leg before working through a 37-pitch session off a mound. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Cecil felt fine after the workout, and the young left-hander is scheduled to start as planned on Thursday against Boston.

"Cecil is ready to go," Gaston said.

On Aug. 8, the 23-year-old Cecil exited his outing against the Orioles with one out in the fifth inning after experiencing pain in his knee. The rookie starter indicated that it was the third time since Spring Training that the knee has flared up on him, and an MRI exam revealed two small tears -- nothing serious enough to warrant time on the DL.

Cecil, who is 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA in his first tour in Toronto's rotation, skipped his planned start against the Rays on Saturday. Left-hander Brian Tallet -- a part-time starter and reliever for the Jays -- took Cecil's turn in the rotation, but will now shift back into the bullpen until a doubleheader against the Rangers on Sept. 1.

Downs, 33, is currently working through his second stint on the 15-day DL due to an injured big left toe. After running through fielding drills and completing a 30-pitch bullpen session, Toronto decided to have Downs remain in Florida this week to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin.

"Downs, he can move OK, but he's still not ready to go," Gaston said. "We're just going slow with him. Last time we went quick with him and it didn't work too well. We'll try to make sure he's close to 100 percent."

Downs originally injured his foot while running out of the batter's box during an at-bat in an Interleague contest on the road against the Phillies on June 16. The veteran lefty returned on July 8 and went 0-3 with two blown saves, a 9.00 ERA, 13 hits allowed and six walks issued in seven innings over nine games.

After watching Downs' season ERA climb to 3.41 from 1.98 over that rough stretch of games, the Blue Jays placed their closer back on the 15-day DL on Aug. 2. Downs is eligible to be activated when Toronto opens a three-game set against Boston on Tuesday, but he will need to complete his Minor League rehab stint before coming back.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.