Jays notebook: Encarnacion could be shut down

Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion returned from their respective injuries on Friday. (AP/CP)

Edwin Encarnacion’s left wrist feels better, but there’s a chance he has played his last game of the season.

The first baseman has not played since Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins due to a left wrist strain. Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Wednesday that while Encarnacion wants to return, he may be sidelined for the remainder of the year.

“He could very well be if it doesn’t progress,” Gibbons said. “There’s not a lot of time left.”

Encarnacion still feels too much pain to hit off of a tee, so he has not been able to test the strength of his wrist in recent days. He has battled wrist soreness throughout the season, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting 36 home runs and posting a .917 OPS in 139 games.

Adam Lind will play first base for the Blue Jays against the Los Angeles Angels in place of Encarnacion Wednesday. There are 18 games remaining in the Blue Jays’ season, which is scheduled to end Sept. 29.

Encarnacion, 30, has avoided the disabled list so far this season, though he did miss games midseason due to hamstring soreness.

With at least two years remaining on his contract with the Blue Jays after this year, it stands to reason that the team will exercise caution for the remainder of the 2013 season.

PROGRESS FOR RASMUS: Colby Rasmus could be back in the Blue Jays lineup by the weekend. The centre fielder took part in pre-game drills Wednesday, and may be ready to return sometime during Toronto’s upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles.

“We’ll let him make that call,” Gibbons said.

Rasmus, who last played Aug. 11, has been sidelined by an oblique strain for the last month.

Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar have been getting considerable playing time in the absence of starters Rasmus, Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera. Gibbons doesn’t expect that to change, as mixing in younger players such as Sierra and Gose remains a priority.

ROMERO IN THE ZONE: Gibbons liked what he saw from Ricky Romero in his first appearance since being promoted from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Now, the manager wants to see Romero continue to attack opposing hitters.

“If he keeps it in the zone, he gets outs,” Gibbons said. “I thought he looked good last night.”

Romero pitched two innings Tuesday, allowing two hits, one walk and one earned run while striking out one. Gibbons believes Romero has enough action on his pitches to retire hitters consistently.

“The key is just getting it in the zone,” he said.

Romero, who started two games for the Blue Jays in May, posted a 5.78 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 63 walks in 113.2 innings with the Bisons.

Gibbons indicated earlier in the month that Romero could get the chance to start a late-season game for Toronto. He cautioned Wednesday that the Blue Jays have an obligation to field competitive lineups while facing post-season contenders such as the Orioles and New York Yankees.

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