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Blue Jays shortstop Reyes to begin rehab assignment

The Toronto Blue Jays' infielder Jose Reyes before the team's season opener against the Cleveland Indians at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont. Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Reyes will begin a rehab assignment on Wednesday as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Shortstop Jose Reyes celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday with the news that his rehabilitation assignment has arrived, officially.

He is to fly on Wednesday to the Blue Jays spring training base in Dunedin, Fla., then take part in simulated games before playing in minor league games.

Reyes injured his ankle on April 12 by sliding feet-first into second base in Kansas City, rather than head first as usual.

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He's been taking part in a daily exercise regime prior to batting practice while travelling with the club, and started to run bases on the weekend.

Wearing an ankle brace, he'll need next to ensure his ability field groundballs from both sides and to turn double plays.

He's been taking batting practice but needs to play in minor league games to recover his timing. Manager John Gibbons estimated a 14-game rehab assignment; Reyes, having endured a similar sprain to the ankle in 2003, was more optimistic.

"Who knows – five, six, two [games], it depends how I'm feeling," he said Tuesday. "If I feel it's where it needs to be, I don't want to take that long because I need to be here, not down there. When I start to feel like my swing is good enough to come up, I'll come up."

The Blue Jays have not indicated how the roster will be affected when he does come back though it's possible one of the middle infielders will be squeezed off the roster.

Munenori Kawasaki (.216) has replaced Reyes at shortstop, primarily.

Maicer Izturis (.208) and Emilio Bonifacio (.206) have alternated at second, with Bonifacio getting most playing time recently.

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Izturis and Kawasaki are both able to play second base and shortstop. Bonifacio can also be used in the outfield.

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