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Reyes eyeing mid-April return to lineup

On DL, shortstop diagnosed with mild left hamstring inflammation

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Reyes eyeing mid-April return to lineup play video for Reyes eyeing mid-April return to lineup

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes has been diagnosed with mild inflammation in his left hamstring and is expected to miss at least the next two weeks.

Reyes on Tuesday underwent an MRI, which did not reveal any structural damage. The veteran shortstop has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, but he remains optimistic he'll be ready to play by the middle of April.

The injury is similar to the one Reyes sustained with the Mets in 2011 when he hit the DL on two separate occasions and missed a total of 29 games.

"It is a relief, that's good news," Reyes said of the MRI results. "Just showed some inflammation there, no damage at all. Just need some rest, should be fine and back to playing.

"It's kind of similar [to 2011]. Hopefully it'll be like that because 2011, the two times I went to the DL, I only missed 29 games, so that means two weeks. So if I'm able to play in two weeks, that's going to be great."

Reyes was scheduled to meet with a doctor before Tuesday night's game against the Rays to discuss his treatment and rehab schedule. The tentative plan is to rest for at least a few days before resuming baseball activities with a cautious approach.

The 30-year-old originally suffered the injury the final week of Spring Training. He took five days off, then returned for a two-game series against the Mets in Montreal last Friday and Saturday.

There has been some criticism directed at the Blue Jays organization for letting him play in that exhibition series. It appears as though the plan was for Reyes to hopefully play through the discomfort, but it has become clear that he was never back to 100 percent.

Reyes made a point of stressing the two games in Montreal didn't have an impact one way or the other on his hamstring. He went 0-for-6 in that series and avoided going at full speed out of the batter's box or in the field to avoid further damage.

"We did some tests, I passed those tests," Reyes said in reference to the Montreal trip. "I was able to play through it like that. I played through it those two games there. I don't want to say I felt great, but I felt OK to play and then I came here [Monday], felt better than I did in Montreal and you see what happened.

"I wanted to play because I know what happened last year to me, second week of the season I went down to the DL. I don't want that to happen, that was my thinking before the season. I want to be here for this team, helping this ballclub as much as I can so hopefully it won't be longer than two weeks. But like I said, I'm going to take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and go from there."

Toronto has decided to go with infielder Jonathan Diaz at short during Reyes' absence. Diaz has the reputation of being an elite defender and should help save some runs for the staff, but there's not a lot of upside with his bat. He's a career .230 hitter in the Minor Leagues and the Blue Jays' hope is that he'll be able to bridge the gap until Reyes returns.

The Blue Jays certainly can't afford to lose Reyes for an extended period of time, which is why Tuesday's news was received with so much positivity. A torn hamstring would have been a devastating blow, but if Reyes can return at some point in April, it'd do wonders for the team. The fact that the tightness returned just one at-bat into Reyes' season was disappointing, but it also could have been a lot worse.

"If I compare that with the one that happened in New York, [two weeks] should be enough," said Reyes, who hit .296 in 93 games last season. "I don't want to put a date because with hamstrings, you never know. [Monday] I felt good that I was going to play and you see what happens. With hamstrings you never know, you feel good and when you try to run, you have a setback. So I have to be careful with it."

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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