<
>

Burnett throws four-inning simulated game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander A.J. Burnett
threw a four-inning simulated game Wednesday.

Burnett was scheduled to make a minor-league rehab start for the
Gulf Coast Blue Jays, but rain forced the 30-year-old to throw a
61-pitch outing instead at Tropicana Field before the Blue Jays
played Tampa Bay.

"Throwing balls felt good," Burnett said. "Curveball was
sharp, and it felt good to be on the hill. I mean, I feel ready. My
arm feels great and my command looks sharp. I'm ready to go."

Burnett went on the 15-day disabled list for the second time
this season on June 29 because of a right shoulder injury, just one
day after returning from the first stint on the DL.

Toronto manager John Gibbons said there is no date set for
Burnett's next rehab start, but it could come Monday at Triple-A
Syracuse.

"He looked good from here," Gibbons said. "I think he
probably needs to get into a game situation, but there's nothing
set yet."

Burnett, 5-6, with a 4.31 ERA, has been on the DL 10 times in
nine seasons -- six times with Florida -- and four times since
signing a $55 million, five-year contract with Toronto before the
2006 season.

Designated hitter Frank Thomas was out of starting lineup for
the second straight day. Gibbons said he wanted to get outfielder
Matt Stairs some playing time but also wanted to give Thomas three
days' rest. The Blue Jays have Thursday off before playing Texas at
home Friday.

"Frank is fine," Gibbons said.

Thomas is batting .250 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs this season
and is 21st with 503 home runs.