ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero was scratched from his upcoming start on Thursday afternoon against Tampa Bay because of a mild left oblique strain.

Romero suffered the injury during his last start against the Yankees when he fielded a line drive off the bat of Mark Teixeira.

"There has been some improvement since the game that night," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said following his club's 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. "He threw on the mound today just to test it out before tomorrow. He was able to throw but yet, at the same time, he felt like it was tolerable.

"The fact that it's tolerable, I think, is enough information that we need to bump him back a couple of days."

Romero will be pushed back two days and is tenatively scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon against the Tigers. Right-handers Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch will each move up one day and start on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Farrell said there are no restrictions with Romero's arm but the club wanted to take a cautious approach and delay the next scheduled outing.

"We don't want to take any chances and it's as much precautionary as it is anything else," Farrell said. "It's one of those injuries if you risk it, you could be looking at prolonged down time."

Romero is 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA in six outings this season. The 26-year-old has struck out 41 while walking 13 over 39 innings.

Hill on target for Sunday return to lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Aaron Hill could make his return from a right hamstring injury on Sunday -- one day earlier than the club originally expected.

Hill took batting practice at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., on Wednesday morning and later took part in an extended Spring Training game.

The 29-year-old received six at-bats and was also hit by a pitch, but no injury was suffered on the play. He is now expected to start in two Minor League games for Class A Dunedin, followed by another day at extended Spring Training.

That would put Hill on pace to return to the Blue Jays before the weekend is over.

"There is the possibility right now that he could be in the lineup on Sunday," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We feel confident in saying that today because of the physical tests, the running that he has been doing, the fact he had the at-bats today. Provided there's no unforeseen changes that take place physically with him, [Sunday] would be the goal."

Hill's original plan was to appear in a third and final Minor League game for Dunedin on Saturday night. That would have limited his availability with Toronto the following day and as a result the club opted to change his itinerary.

Instead of playing for Class A, Hill will take part in another extended Spring Training game on Saturday afternoon.

"It's the logistics and the time of the game," Farrell said. "It's a Saturday night game for Dunedin, it's a Saturday afternoon game for the extended program. We have a day game on Sunday, and to try and fly that morning and rush, it's all about the clock."

Hill has been out since April 19 with a right hamstring strain. He is batting .242 with nine RBIs and six stolen bases in 16 games this season.

Blue Jays hoping for weekend return for Bautista

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jose Bautista reportedly felt some improvement in his sore neck on Wednesday and remains on schedule to return to the Blue Jays' lineup this weekend.

Bautista hasn't played since being removed during the seventh inning of Sunday's game against the Yankees with neck tightness.

Toronto's right fielder is receiving treatment from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Tolli in St. Petersburg, Fla. Due to the nature of the injury, most of the treatment is medicinal but he is now feeling better according to Blue Jays manager John Farrell.

"He's up walking around, feels more freed up, so the spasm is relaxing," Farrell said. "The information that we were given and the prognosis going forward is that it would, and it has done just that.

"It hasn't changed our timeframe or our timetable upon his return, but the fact that progress is being made is encouraging."

The Blue Jays do not believe Bautista will require a stint on the 15-day disabled list and hope to have him back in the lineup by Sunday.

That diagnosis depends on how his injury reacts to baseball-related activity over the next few days.

"We have to be sure that we go through the appropriate physical tests, that he's not reproducing any of those symptoms," Farrell said. "Or that it's not lingering in any waym or causing stiffness or tightness the following day after a workout.

"Our tentative plan going forward would be to have some swinging of the bat, some baseball activity on Friday. Provided that there's no residual effect and how intense we can make the workouts ... then project [him] to be back in the lineup on Sunday."

Bautista entered Wednesday leading the American League in average (.357), on-base percentage (.530), OPS (1.292), slugging (.762), home runs (9), walks (30), and runs (25).

Davis shifts over to right in Bautista's absence

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rajai Davis will be the Blue Jays' starting right fielder until Jose Bautista is able to return from a neck injury.

Davis, who is normally the club's center fielder, shifted to the corner outfielder spot to make room for Corey Patterson up the middle.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell believes that alignment gives his club the best defense possible during Bautista's absence.

"Rajai has a better arm in right," Farrell said when asked for his reasoning behind the move. "He has played more right field than Corey has. Out of the three positions, Corey's best routes are in center field and it's probably more of the track record."

Utility man Mike McCoy is the Blue Jays' fourth outfielder in that scenario. He has spent most of his career in the infield but has appeared in three games in the outfield this season.

Worth mentioning

Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind found himself in a bit of hot water during Tuesday's game against the Rays after not running to first base on an infield popup. "That was addressed in between innings," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Out of respect to the player, do it out of sight of what takes place on the field, but that was addressed." ... Lind extended his hitting streak to nine games with a two-run homer in the first inning of Wednesday night's game against Tampa Bay. He entered the game having hit .386 (17-for-44) with four home runs and 14 RBIs over his past 11 games.