Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez throws against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of their AL baseball game in Toronto on April 14. Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez said Friday that he’ll soon begin throwing off the mound as he continues his recovery from an injury to his right middle finger. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jays’ Sanchez throws off mound in next phase of rehab from finger injury

TORONTO — Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez threw off a mound Friday in the latest step in his recovery from a finger injury.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who has spent the last four weeks on the disabled list, has made only five starts this season due to nail and blister issues on his right middle finger. Sanchez did not have a firm timeline for his return but said he has been making progress.

“The biggest thing is what I do in practice and what I do in the game is two different things,” Sanchez said. “So it’s trying to mimic that as much as we can and make sure that the skin around that area is strong enough to withhold what I’m doing.”

His mound session came Friday afternoon, a few hours after he held a lunch-hour media availability at a pep rally for students at a downtown school. Sanchez threw in the Rogers Centre bullpen before the Blue Jays played the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.

In addition to the blister problem, Sanchez underwent a surgical procedure in mid-April to remove part of the nail on the finger. He returned from the DL two weeks later but the nail split just five pitches into the start and he left the game after one inning.

Another DL stint followed and he returned to the mound May 14, but once again it appeared that his finger started bleeding early in the game. Sanchez made one more start before returning to the DL.

There still appeared to be some discolouration near the tip of Sanchez’s injured finger Friday. He said that recent long toss sessions had gone well and that everything was on track.

Sanchez posted a sparkling 15-2 record last year in his first full big-league season. He finished tied for seventh in American League Cy Young Award voting and led all AL starters with a 3.00 earned-run average.

He’s 0-1 this season with a 3.33 ERA.

Once Sanchez gets the green light to resume regular pitching, he’ll likely be given a rehab stint in the minor leagues. The injury report on the Blue Jays’ website said a late June return was possible.

Also Friday, the Blue Jays reinstated outfielder Steve Pearce from the DL and placed utilityman Chris Coghlan on the 10-day DL with a left wrist contusion.

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