Jose Reyes could return by the end of June

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Jose Reyes is making progress on an ankle injury suffered on April 12 against the Royals. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports the shortstop had a walking boot removed and talk part in stretching prior to tonight’s game against the Yankees. Another surprising piece of news:

Reyes was expected to be out until the All-Star break, but Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said it’s possible that timeline could be pushed up to the end of June. The biggest test will come when he starts running, something which likely will happen within the next couple of weeks.

The injury is somewhat similar to the one he experienced back in 2003 with the Mets. He was forced to miss only 26 games because it happened toward the end of the season, but he was still feeling the effects the following Spring Training.

The healing process should be a lot quicker this time around because the pain hasn’t lingered in quite the same way.

The Jays could certainly use Reyes as they sit at 17-25 in last place in the AL East. They acquired Reyes from the Marlins in November in the 13-player trade that also saw Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio head north of the border. In 43 trips to the plate prior to the injury, Reyes was hitting .395 with five stolen bases in as many attempts.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.