An ugly 10-1 thumping from the Chicago White Sox on Monday meant his 200th career home run with the franchise became a mere footnote. But sitting just two homers behind George Bell and three back of Joe Carter, Encarnacion is now a big week away from fourth all-time in team history, with Vernon Wells’ 223 in sight for third spot.
“It’s good to have the 200th home run with the organization,” he said. “It’s not a good situation, we lost the game, but I’m happy for the 200th home run with the Blue Jays.”
Encarnacion’s long-term future with the franchise has been discussed ad nauseum, and at this point it appears that the Blue Jays aren’t compelled to tempt him away from the open market.
But given the significant spot he already holds in the team’s records, it’s worth remembering that he arrived as a salary dump from the Cincinnati Reds with prospect Zach Stewart and reliever Josh Roenicke for Scott Rolen, and was designated for assignment, claimed on waivers and re-signed.
Like Jose Bautista, he blossomed in Toronto after being discarded by his former club.
After missing the entire Grapefruit League schedule because of an oblique issue, Encarnacion hasn’t yet enjoyed one of his patented hot streaks, but took a .282/.326/.447 slash line with three homers and 15 RBIs into Wednesday night’s action.
“I’ve been happy, I go little by little and try to do the best I can, and feel better every day,” Encarnacion said of how he feels at the plate.
What he’s less happy about is the Blue Jays’ 10-12 start to the season.
“It’s tough, we haven’t been playing the way we’re supposed to play. It’s only 22 games, we’ve got to change that, continue to work hard and try to play better,” he said. “This is a long season and I know this team is better than the way we’ve been playing and I know things have to change. It’s tough when you’re losing games the way we’ve been losing, but we know we’ve got to continue to work hard and continue to try and do these things better.
“It’s been slow for us. We have 10 wins and we haven’t been playing even half (as well) as we can play. We’re going to be different, everybody will get hot, the team will turn around and we’re going to enjoy it.”
They’ll be trying to rebound from two straight losses in which they first blew a 5-1 lead with seven outs to go before surrendering a season-high 10 runs.
“It will turn for the whole team. We still have confidence in ourselves, we’ll get it going,” said manager John Gibbons.
When asked what he wanted to see to get his team going, Gibbons replied: “I think if we just combine a little bit of everything. I’m sure we’ve had a couple of games like that, where you get the offence really rolling, the pitching is good, defence, that’s what it takes. They’re hot over there, they’re a tough team to face right now, and with (Chris) Sale on the mound you knew he was going to be tough. We’ll put all phases of the game together, then we’ll start winning some tight ballgames when you come up against some better pitching, but we’ve got it in us.”
He went a total of 64 games without an error.
The Blue Jays record for most games without an error among shortstops is Tony Fernandez’s 65 games from June 10-Aug. 26, 1988.