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Blue Jays GM: Vlad Jr. debut 'sooner than later'

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is back hitting again in the minor leagues, and Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins indicated Friday that it won't be too long before he's doing it for the big league club.

The touted prospect was slowed in spring training by a strained oblique, but he joined Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday, hitting a home run, a double and four RBIs in his season debut for the Bisons.

"Our sense is that it's sooner than later," Atkins told reporters Friday when asked about a specific timetable for the 20-year-old third baseman debuting for the Blue Jays. "For a player that has played as much as he has, as much success as he's had, now it's about getting built up and really getting into regular-season form and hopefully getting ready to make a debut at some point soon."

Guerrero Jr. hit .381 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs while rocketing through four levels of minor league ball last year. There was a chance he could make the Blue Jays' big league roster out of spring training, but the strained oblique early in spring camp ruined any chance of that.

The key now, according to Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo, is getting the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero more at-bats in the minors.

"He missed spring training, he missed a lot of at-bats in spring training," Montoyo told reporters Friday. "He needs to get at-bats. Of course, he goes deep yesterday, but all kidding aside he needs at-bats. It's not fair for him to just get 20 at-bats and then come straight to the big leagues. I don't know how many more. It could be 20. Bobby Meacham [Buffalo's manager] is going to let us know."

Guerrero was back in the Bisons' lineup Friday, going 0-for-1 with a walk before their game was called in the fifth inning due to rain.