Rasmus back in lineup after brief illness

Rasmus back in lineup after brief illness

TORONTO -- Colby Rasmus made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Friday night after missing two games because of flu-like symptoms.

Rasmus was a late scratch for Tuesday's game against Boston after catching a bout of the flu. He took a few days to recover but was cleared in time for the series opener vs. the Yankees.

Toronto opted to ease Rasmus back into the lineup by giving him the start at designated hitter. Rookie Kevin Pillar made his third consecutive start in center field.

"He's feeling better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Friday afternoon. "Give him a little bit of a breather and still get him some at-bats."

Pillar is in the process of auditioning for a spot on next year's team. There is plenty of uncertainty with Toronto's outfielders next season, as Rasmus and Melky Cabrera are about to hit free agency, and that could open a spot for Pillar.

The most likely future role for Pillar is as a fourth outfielder, but in order to gain any long-term stability, he'll have to improve his patience at the plate. That's been an issue in the past, but it's something Gibbons says has seen some improvement in since Pillar's last stint in the Minors.

"I like the way he looks," Gibbons said. "It looks like he made some adjustments with his hands. I've said to these guys before, 'It's tough breaking into the big leagues.' When he's been here before, it's been kind of sporadic play, basically going with a platoon-type thing that makes it that much tougher, but he has earned his right for that opportunity to be here."

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.