SAN DIEGO, California - Edwin Encarnacion was at third base on Friday night as the Blue Jays opened a three-game series against the Padres.
With the absence of Brett Lawrie, on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle, and with the designated hitter spot out of play under National League rules, Encarnacion's move to third opens up first base for Adam Lind.
Look for a similar lineup on Sunday against the Padres and on Tuesday in San Francisco, when the Jays are scheduled to face right-handed starters. The Giants have yet to determine who will pitch on Wednesday.
"I think it's going to be fine," said third base coach Luis Rivera, who doubles as the club's infield instructor. "He takes ground balls at first base every day. It's a different angle but he's taking ground balls is the thing. He took ground balls (Thursday,) he took about 30 ground balls, maybe a little bit more than that. He threw to first base, he felt comfortable, he was moving his feet well like he's doing at first base and he made all good throws to first. So that's a good thing."
Encarnacion was a third baseman when he began his major league career with the Cincinnati Reds. Since his trade to Toronto, for Scott Rolen on July 31, 2009, Encarnacion has been the Jays' third baseman in 174 games.
It was a struggle, both with the glove and the throw across the diamond. Encarnacion's made 34 errors playing third in Toronto. At his low point, in 2010, Encarnacion was designated for assignment with the prevailing belief that his struggles in the field were affecting his hitting.
It was a perfect storm. These are different times.
"He's way more confident now than he used to be," said Rivera. "He doesn't have to worry about being sent down or anything else that was going on at that time. He is very comfortable now, he's doing a great job, he's swinging the bat, he's catching the ball at first base so his confidence is high and he knows he's not going to be staying there. It's just going to be a few days and he's comfortable with that, he's fine with that, whatever the team needs he's going to do it for us."
The early returns on Friday night were positive. With one out in the first, Padres' right fielder Chris Denorfia laid a down a bunt toward third. Encarnacion charged, barehanded the ball and made the off-balance throw to first.
In the fourth, Encarnacion hit his club-leading 15th home run.
MORROW UNCERTAIN FOR SUNDAY
Brandon Morrow's forearm strain is threatening to keep him out of his next scheduled start, Sunday against the Padres.
"Morrow is up in the air for Sunday," said manager John Gibbons. "He's feeling a little bit better but, two days away, I don't know. I haven't had a chance to talk to the trainers and the pitching coach just yet but it's dicey."
Morrow went out to play long toss on Friday afternoon but shut down the session early.
The 28-year-old removed himself from Tuesday's game against the Braves after only two innings, complaining of soreness in his forearm.
On Wednesday, Morrow told TSN.ca he would argue his case to make Sunday's start.