NEW YORK – Edwin Encarnacion's strained right quadriceps isn't progressing as quickly as he, the Blue Jays and the club's starved-for-a-winner fanbase is hoping.
"Eddie had a little setback in Florida,” said manager John Gibbons before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium. “He's a little bit tender so we're going to back him off for a few days.”
Encarnacion was injured three weeks ago, July 5, in Oakland as he beat out an RBI fielder's choice groundball in the first inning of an eventual loss to the Athletics. As he was running to first base, Encarnacion felt a pop in his quadriceps. One stride beyond the bag, he crumpled to the ground and required the assistance of trainers George Poulis and Mike Frostad to leave the field.
A day later, he was placed on the disabled list after an MRI revealed what Encarnacion reported to be a Grade-2 strain. That's an injury which typically requires a six-week recovery period.
Encarnacion is halfway to six weeks. Which begs the question, was it a setback?
He felt the tightness while swinging a bat.
“He was feeling it when he was twisting, the torque in his swing,” said Gibbons.
The Blue Jays are legitimate contenders, thanks to the weakened state of the American League East and to the existence of a second wild card spot, for the first time in more than two decades.
Without Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind, the club is missing one-third of its starting lineup and three bats who typically hit in the middle of the order. The offence, predictably, has struggled as a result and there is now desperation to get the injured players back.
Neither Encarnacion, nor the club can be blamed. A player with a muscle injury won't know how well he's coming along until he tests it.
Encarnacion found out the hard way that he's not ready yet.
There's no timetable for his return.
There is one injured Blue Jay who is getting close to returning.
Outfielder Nolan Reimold, who strained his left calf on July 11 in Tampa Bay and who is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, will be back soon.
“Within the next few days,” said manager John Gibbons. “He's probably feeling better than any of them.”
Gibbons said it's unlikely Reimold would need a mino- league rehabilitation assignment, so long as his return is in the next few days.
MORROW BOUND FOR FLORIDA
When his teammates leave after Sunday's game for Boston, Brandon Morrow will head in the opposite direction, destined for the club's facilities in Dunedin, Florida.
It's the next step in his rehab of a torn tendon sheath in the right index finger. Earlier this week, Morrow was up on a mound for the first time in more than two-and-a-half months.
“I threw my first bullpen off a mound two days ago and threw again yesterday and it felt fine,” said Morrow. “Just nice and easy, nothing too aggressive, but I was throwing all my pitches, spinning the ball and everything felt good.”
Morrow still wraps supportive tape around his finger, but takes it off to throw the baseball.
He'll throw more bullpen sessions in Florida over the next 10 days and progress to throwing live batting practice, followed by a simulated game.
Expect Morrow's return, if all goes well, to be in the final month of the season. He'll likely work out of the bullpen.
Colby Rasmus had a frustrating Friday night. He hit two balls hard, but both went for outs because the Yankees had their infielders perfectly placed in exaggerated shifts.
“It's all about love and luck in this game,” said Rasmus. “You've still got to hit it past those defensive players. Sometimes it looks like there are 100 of them out ther,e but that's all part of it and hopefully I can just continue what I'm doing and they'll start falling.”
Rasmus hit a line drive to rightfield off Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda in the fourth inning. Second baseman Brian Roberts was roving and made a nice leaping catch.
In his next at-bat, Rasmus smoked a liner up the middle, just to the right of the second base bag. There stood third baseman Chase Headley, who didn't have to move to make the catch.