OAKLAND – Edwin Encarnacion is lost to the Blue Jays until at least the All-Star Break with a Grade-2 strain of his right quadriceps, a tough blow for a team just swept by the mighty Athletics; a club that's lost 19 of its last 28 games to all but fritter away the gains it made with a torrid May.
Still, Encarnacion felt a sense of relief. He felt a pop just before crumpling to the ground after running out a groundball in the first inning of Saturday's game. It could have been worse.
“It's going to take maybe two weeks,” said Encarnacion. “It depends how I'm going to be and how I'm going to be day after day, feeling better or not. We'll see.”
Encarnacion is baseball's leader with 70 RBI through Sunday's play. His 26 home runs place him second to the White Sox's Jose Abreu, who has 27.
A Blue Jays offence limited to just three runs in a four-game sweep at the hands of pitching-strong Oakland faces as difficult a task heading south to Anaheim, where the Angels will send out Jered Weaver and left-handers Tyler Skaggs and C.J. Wilson against Toronto in a three-game series that starts on Monday.
Expect Encarnacion to be placed on the disabled list, perhaps as soon as Monday, paving the way for waiver pickup Nolan Reimold (more on him below) to enter the fold.
Jose Bautista, who started at first base on Sunday as waiver claim Cole Gillespie manned right field, was willing to play any position asked of him in the series with the Angels.
While Bautista admitted lingering soreness in his ailing hamstring, he acknowledged the club's dire straits. Brett Lawrie is injured. Encarnacion is injured. Adam Lind is playing hurt.
“If it's better suited for me to be at third or first for the time being given all the injuries and stuff that's going on, even if I'm able to go to right field, I'll take it wherever I can,” said Bautista. “I just want to make sure that I do whatever I can to put the team in the best position to win.”
BAUTISTA DECLINES FURTHER COMMENT ON REPLAY
Jose Bautista had nothing more to say about Major League Baseball's replay system following Saturday night's rant.
Following the Blue Jays 5-1 loss to the Athletics, Bautista referred to the procedure as a “joke” and called for a return to the days pre-replay. He questioned the integrity of those involved, wondering whether the umpires reviewing fellow umpires' calls are prioritizing protecting their brethren over making the right call.
On Sunday morning, Bautista told TSN.ca he wouldn't be commenting further. When it was mentioned that he'd likely be asked, repeatedly, his views on replay at the upcoming All-Star festivities in Minneapolis, Bautista said he would direct reporters to refer to his previous comments.
There has been a growing frustration in the Toronto clubhouse with baseball's challenge system. Bautista reached his breaking point following Saturday's eighth inning when, with the Jays down 3-1, he doubled and Melky Cabrera was called out at the plate trying to score from first base. Video evidence suggested Athletics' catcher Derek Norris missed Cabrera with a swipe tag but the call was upheld by the war room in New York.
A couple of thoughts:
Bautista is one of the brighter players in the game and nothing he says is unplanned.
He was expressing the aforementioned frustration.
He also effectively created a diversion, changing the focus from his team's plight (the Jays had dropped 18 of 27 games through Saturday) to his views on a clearly flawed protocol.
Who knows, perhaps Bautista's rant will spark internal discussion amongst the Players' Association, which would then lean on Major League Baseball to make necessary changes.
A good start would be to have independent parties, unaffiliated with umpires, reviewing challenged calls.
The Blue Jays are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Orioles' castoff Nolan Reimold, claimed off waivers on Sunday.
Reimold, 30, is a once promising prospect whose career has been derailed by injuries, specifically two neck surgeries. He's appeared in 17 games for Baltimore's Double-A affiliate, Bowie, this season, hitting .315/.420/.481.
In 286 big league games with the Orioles from 2009-2013, Reimold is a .252/.327/.439 hitter with 41 home runs.
His platoon splits don't discriminate. He has a career .775 OPS against right-handers with 27 home runs in 603 at-bats. Against left-handers, Reimold has posted a .749 OPS with 14 home runs in 333 at-bats.
Reimold will report to the Blue Jays in Anaheim.
On Sunday, Toronto designated outfielder Brad Glenn for assignment to make room for Cole Gillespie, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle on Saturday.
Gillespie started Sunday's game in rightfield.