Michael Saunders will not be ready for Opening Day

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Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders was making steady enough progress in his return from knee surgery that reports about him possibly being ready for Opening Day began surfacing, but manager John Gibbons shut that down today.

Gibbons told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that Saunders will not be ready for Opening Day and will begin the season on the disabled list. At the time of the surgery the initial timetable had Saunders missing most of the first half, so returning at any point in April would still be a major boost for Toronto.

Saunders was acquired from the Mariners in exchange for left-hander J.A. Happ in December and will be the Blue Jays’ starting left fielder once he’s healthy. Last season he hit .273 with eight homers and a .791 OPS in 78 games.