R.A. Dickey and Stephen Strasburg to make next starts, Matt Harrison requires second back surgery

A lot of news on the injury front over the past 24 hours, especially pertaining to top of the rotation starting pitchers for teams with high expectations this season.

• For the Toronto Blue Jays, the news is actually pretty good for two of their ailing starters. According to Shi Davadi on Twitter, the MRI for knuckleballing ace R.A. Dickey has come back clean, revealing only "mild inflammation" in his troublesome back and neck.

That has to be quite a relief given the unpredictability of back injuries, but the concern surrounding Dickey isn't likely to dissipate until he finally strings together some effective starts. Dickey remains on track to start Saturday, so they'll know soon if there's reason to feel optimistic about his overall status.

The Blue Jays also received good news on Josh Johnson. The 29-year-old right-hander was scratched from his scheduled start last Friday after experiencing tightness in his right triceps, but according to multiple reports his MRI also came back clean, meaning he can start during their weekend series against Seattle. It's believed Friday is the day manager John Gibbons will shoot for, but the situation is fluid.

Again, Blue Jays fans will want to see some consistency before feeling too good about Johnson's status, but any bit of positive news following their disappointing 10-17 month of April has to be welcomed.

• Flipping to the National League, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg tossed a pain free bullpen session on Wednesday, Amando Comak of the Washington Times reported. That puts him on track to start Saturday against the same team he made his major league debut against in 2010, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Needless to say, eyes will be glued to this start as well as we attempt to determine if Stephen is broken or just scuffling.

About two weeks ago the Texas Rangers learned they would be without starting pitcher Matt Harrison until at least the all-star break because of a herniated disk in his back that required surgery. Harrison underwent that surgery on April 23, and by all accounts it was successful. However, the valuable left-hander was forced to undergo a second surgery on Wednesday for a separate disk issue.

As noted earlier, back injuries can be unpredictable and tricky to deal with. Harrison's situation is a good example as the second issue seems to have come out of nowhere. Right now it's not believed the second surgery will add significant time to his recovery, but I have to believe the all-star break would be wishful thinking at this point.

In the meantime, Texas will continue making do with young starters like Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm.

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