NEW YORK -- Left-hander Ricky Romero took the first step in his return to the Major Leagues by tossing seven quality innings for Class A Dunedin on Saturday night.
Romero got the start against the Brevard County Manatees and allowed just one run on six hits. He struck out four, but perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the outing was that he didn't walk a batter.
Toronto's former ace had been held out of games until Friday as he worked through a series of mechanical adjustments on the mound with roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.
"I don't know yet at this point," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said when asked what the next step for Romero is. "I want to speak to Dane and see what he feels. ... I'm really leaning on him to make the decisions on what he feels is best.
"Dane's the one who decided he was ready for a start now. I'm not down there day in and day out, Dane is the one doing the work with him. Alternately, Dane will let me know what he wants to do. For the most part, we're letting Dane Johnson make the decisions."
The Blue Jays are attempting to have Romero pitch with a more direct line to the plate. The goal is to stop the Los Angeles native from throwing across his body as much as he has done in the past.
Romero used to go with a full windup by bringing the glove over his head during the delivery. That has since changed, and Romero now also taps the ball in his glove prior to each pitch to act as a timing motion.
The walks will never be completely eliminated, but the hope is that the number of pitches outside of the zone will be at least more limited.
"He just basically brings [the glove] down to his belt, little things to take away the moving parts overall, sometimes he'd rock back, balance and things like that," Anthopoulos said. "Dane Johnson is encouraged by it and the results are obviously good. I know it's a Florida State League game, but overall, Dane has done a really good job with him."
The timing of when Romero could eventually make his return to the Majors is still unknown. Left-hander J.A. Happ won the final spot in the rotation during Spring Training and currently has a 3.86 ERA in five outings, which ranks first among Blue Jays starters.
An opening could be created if either R.A. Dickey or Josh Johnson require a stint on the disabled list. Dickey has been dealing with an upper back and neck injury, while Johnson was scratched from his last start because of tightness in his right triceps muscle.
But Anthopoulos doesn't believe either starter will require an extended period of time off. Dickey has yet to miss a start, and Johnson remains in the mix for an outing at some point between Thursday and Saturday.
"Obviously, the results of the MRI were completely clean, just a little bit of inflammation, so I don't see there being any problem there," Anthopoulos said of Johnson. "We don't have any other complaints from any of the other starters.
"At some point, obviously we expect Romero to continue to progress and we'll have a decision to make, which is exactly what we want. That's a good thing, we want him back to being the guy he was, the All-Star, and that's a great problem for our organization to have."
Dickey expected to get MRI for back, neck
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays No. 1 starter R.A. Dickey is expected to go for an MRI in the near future to examine the cause of his upper back and neck injury.
Dickey has been dealing with the issue during his past four outings, but with the pain having yet to fully subside, he feels a further checkup is required.
Following Toronto's 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, the 38-year-old isn't sure exactly when the MRI will take place, but he said it could happen on Monday after the club returns from its seven-game road trip that was just completed Sunday.
"I think we might take an MRI and see exactly what's going on so we can pinpoint the treatment a little bit better," Dickey said. "George [Poulis] and the training staff, for them to get me out there and ready to compete like they have, they've done a great job."
Dickey admirably has managed to pitch through the pain while delivering solid results on the mound. He has allowed only eight runs over his past 25 1/3 innings, but is only 2-2 over that span in part because of a lack of run support.
The numbers have been there, but Dickey still knows that something isn't quite right. He has every intention of continuing to pitch, but if the exact nature of the injury can be identified, it might help speed up the recovery process.
"I've been pitching with this thing now for about three weeks," Dickey said after allowing three runs in seven innings against New York. "I can do it and still have the results that you saw the last three weeks.
"But I certainly feel like I'm capable of more when I'm healthy. So we'll continue to take it start by start, day by day. You really only have two options, pout about it or grind it out, and I'm certainly going to try to grind it out."
Santos progressing, but return unknown
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos has resumed throwing, but there is no immediate timetable for his return.
Santos was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month because of a minor right triceps strain. He was sent to the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., to work through the issue and has now begun to make some progress.
"Playing catch up to 90 feet, feels great," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of Santos. "So he'll obviously progress at some point here to a bullpen [session]. Right now, no setbacks at all.
"We don't have a date yet, but as long as he doesn't have any setbacks, we expect to get him back as soon as we get him into a game and maybe get him a back-to-back appearance."
Santos would have been eligible to come off the disabled list in time for Tuesday night's game against Boston, but that clearly won't happen. He has yet to appear in a game, and as a result will likely need at least another week before making his return.
That would seem longer than first anticipated, but Anthopoulos doesn't feel as though that's the case.
Santos has allowed one run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings this season. He managed to appear in just six games last year because of a right shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.
• The Blue Jays optioned right-hander Brad Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo prior to Sunday afternoon's game against the Yankees. Lincoln appeared in two games for Toronto this week and allowed two runs in a pair of innings. He was removed from the roster to make room for Adam Lind, who returned from the paternity list after the birth of his second child.
• Jose Reyes is expected to have his walking boot removed within the next seven to 10 days. His physical activity still will be extremely limited for the next several weeks, but it marks the first step in his road to recovery. Reyes recently told Anthopoulos that he hopes to return at some point in June, but Toronto's general manager still expects the injury to keep Reyes out of action until at least July.