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Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson celebrates his solo home run in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, in Cleveland, on May 3, 2018.David Richard/Reuters

Josh Donaldson, looking casual and relaxed with his girlfriend on his arm, sauntered along the busy downtown Toronto sidewalk and ducked into the bustling venue in which he was to be the star attraction.

It was not Rogers Centre, where the exploits of the Toronto Blue Jays star third baseman helped transform the 32-year-old into one of the game’s most recognizable players.

It was a trendy nightclub in the city’s entertainment district, a place with several bowling lanes for patrons who like to knock down some pins as they knock back some drinks.

And it was where Donaldson staged his fourth annual BaseBOWL charity tournament on Thursday night with the proceeds benefiting the Jays Care Foundation and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

He was joined by most of his teammates, who were enjoying a night off from what has been a trying season.

“I’m not a great bowler by any stretch. ... I’m not Mookie Betts,” Donaldson said, referring to the Boston Red Sox outfielder who bowled a perfect game at a professional bowling event last year. “I’m more of a golfer, but I feel like this is a little bit more intimate setting and it’s close to the stadium as well.”

But in a scenario that Donaldson has become accustomed to as a ball player, he was unable to participate fully even at his own charity event. A nagging left calf muscle injury prevented him from pulling on his bowling shoes.

“I’ll probably talk a little trash with a few people,” Donaldson said lightly.

Donaldson, the American League’s most valuable player in 2015, has played in just 36 of Toronto’s 80 games this season with a combination of shoulder and leg injuries.

Earlier this week, a left-calf issue, which has already sidelined him for 25 games and was thought to be close to healing, was aggravated as Donaldson was rehabilitating at the team’s training facility in Dunedin, Fla.

An MRI revealed Donaldson had suffered an acute strain of the calf muscle and his return has been knocked back another three weeks – at least.

“It’s not fun,” Donaldson said, when asked about the latest setback. “I’d rather be out there. I want to be on the field. Any time you can’t, it kind of takes away from what I can do.

“I’ve been doing this ever since I was five years old. For me not to be able to go out there and play the way that I want to, it’s not fun. But it’s also kind of part of life and I have to deal with it.”

After playing in at least 155 games a season from 2013 through 2016, Donaldson has become surprisingly brittle the past two years with an assortment of ailments. He was limited to just 113 games in 2017 before this season set him back further.

He said he has no explanation for the turn of events.

“If I had those answers, I wouldn’t be in this position,” he said. “We are reaching out to different types of doctors to kind of go through some things, to kind of check some boxes off to see if there are reasons for that. We don’t have that information yet. And I’m sure if there is something that it’ll be brought up at some point.”

His absence has helped exacerbate the free fall of the Blue Jays (37-43). The team’s chances of making the postseason were listed at just 2.2 per cent by the FanGraphs baseball website on Thursday.

“It’s unfortunate, definitely a blow to the organization and frustrating for us, frustrating for him,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said in a telephone interview. “We’ll do everything we can just to get him back as quickly and safely as possible.”

Donaldson’s consistent run of injuries could not have occurred at a worse time for the team or the player, who is slated to become a free agent at the season’s end. Donaldson’s continued injuries have likely hampered his ability to get a lucrative long-term contract.

And if the Blue Jays were looking to sell players by the July 31 non-arbitration trade deadline, as many anticipate, Donaldson’s value is not as robust as it might have been had the third baseman stayed healthy.

Donaldson said he can’t let that train of thought enter his mind.

“The circumstances, they are what they are,” he said. “And I can’t control that. All I can control is my attitude and how I go about my business and work. I try to go out there and give everything that I can, whether it’s in my rehab, whether it’s when I am on the field.

“I treat this no different and just try to stay as positive as I can be even though it can be difficult at times.”

The Blue Jays begin a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

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