Rockies expect Jorge De La Rosa back from surgery in July

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A few weeks ago Jorge De La Rosa was said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, leading to speculation that he might return to game action sooner than expected, but the Rockies are still being cautious with his timetable.

Pitching coach Bob Apodaca told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that “our hope” is to have De La Rosa back in the rotation in July, which would be about 14 months after the surgery.

He’ll need to avoid setbacks in the meantime and Saunders reports that De La Rosa will throw multiple bullpen sessions during the next week and then advance to facing live hitters in batting practice.

“BP will probably come in the latter part of spring training,” Apodaca told Saunders. “He will get into ballgames in extended spring after that. I don’t think we are in a hurry. When it’s his time, he will get back to us.”

De La Rosa, who made 10 starts with a 3.51 ERA before being shut down last season, is under contract for $10 million this year.

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.