It’s not all bad news for the Toronto Blue Jays this month.
Despite watching the Baltimore Orioles quickly run away with the division lead and finally losing their grip on the second Wild Card spot in the American League, the Jays will get a welcome boost of offence tonight when Edwin Encarnacion returns to the lineup.
Encarnacion will be making his first major league appearance since July 5th when he went down to injury against the American League-leading Oakland Athletics. He injured his quad trying to beat out a double play. His hustle paid off, allowing a runner to score, but it also knocked him out of the lineup for over a month.
In his absence, the Jays have struggled offensively and they’ve also had trouble replacing him defensively at first base. Jose Bautista, Danny Valencia and Juan Francisco have all spent some time at the busy corner over the past six weeks, stretching the team’s defence thin.
Francisco in particular has been a poor substitute for Encarnacion while Bautista is better utilized in the outfield. For his part, Valencia has done an adequate job filling in at first base.
Before returning to the Jays, Encarnacion spent some time with the Dunedin Blue Jays (Advanced A) and Buffalo Bisons (Triple A) on a rehab basis. He hit a grand slam in his first game for the Bisons and collected a total of two hits across eight plate appearances. The fact he only spent two days with the Bisons underscores how desperately the Jays want/need him back in the lineup.
The Jays (63-59) are coming off a tough three-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners (65-55) and hope a road series against the lowly Chicago White Sox (57-64) will help them get back on the right track. Toronto had won its previous series 2-1 over the Detroit Tigers.