Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons pronounced Edwin Encarnacion “good to go” after putting him in the lineup at first base for the first time in nine days.
The 30-year-old missed three games with hamstring and wrist soreness earlier in the week then appeared in two games as Toronto’s designated hitter. The Blue Jays now believe he can play defence at full strength.
“We told him to be cautious, though,” Gibbons said. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
The manager said he’d be surprised if Encarnacion is not named to the American League All-Star team when rosters are announced Saturday.
“His peers recognize him. Opponents recognize him,” Gibbons said. “He has really just come into his own in the last couple of years.”
Encarnacion has 23 home runs and a .269/.352/.531/.883 batting line in 83 games this year. He broke out in 2012, hitting .280/.384/.557/.941 with 42 home runs.
REDMOND READY: Todd Redmond says there won’t be any jitters when he makes his first Blue Jays start against Guelph, ON native Scott Diamond Sunday. Redmond made his first MLB start last year for the Cincinnati Reds and has since made three relief appearances with the Blue Jays.
“Ever since I got the debut out of the way, it’s been a lot easier to come into the games,” Redmond said. “It’s always best to have a couple games under your belt.”
The 28-year-old right-hander said he’ll rely on the same assortment of pitches that he has used while pitching in relief. He throws a four-seam fastball, a slider and a split-fingered fastball against both right-handers and left-handers.
“I’m not going to overpower guys, so I just try to keep the ball down and get outs,” Redmond said.
His split-fingered fastball functions as a change-up and works best against left-handed hitters.
VELOCITY BUMP: For the first few weeks after Dustin McGowan returned to the MLB level, the Blue Jays didn’t use him much.
But the 31-year-old reliever has now appeared three times in the last week and the Blue Jays like what they see. With a fastball that averages 95 m.p.h., McGowan is well-equipped to retire major-league hitters.
“It’s amazing that after all he’s been through he can still throw the ball that hard,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons says the Blue Jays will find ways to use McGowan in important spots going forward. The right-hander is available to pitch Saturday.
HEALTH UPDATES: Steve Delabar has dealt with some soreness, so the Blue Jays will attempt to give him a rest Saturday. Gibbons indicated that the Blue Jays are not particularly concerned about the right-hander’s health.
“Nothing unusual, just a lot of work,” Gibbons said.
The 29-year-old last pitched Monday, but he has already appeared in 35 games this season. He has a 1.58 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 22 walks in 40 innings of relief work.
The Blue Jays will also look to give Neil Wagner the day off, since the right-hander threw 39 pitches against the Detroit Tigers Thursday.
Gibbons said reliever Sergio Santos is doing well in his recovery from an elbow operation. Finding room for Santos in the bullpen won’t be easy if the team’s relievers continue pitching this well.
“We like him and we’re going to need him,” Gibbons said.
NOTES: Gibbons believes that right fielder Jose Bautista has re-gained his timing with his leg kick. “I think that’s the number one thing that kills most guys is the timing,” Gibbons said … The manager noted that he appreciates Jose Reyes even more now that he is seeing the shortstop daily. “There’s something different about him.”