DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays appear to have changed their minds about Edwin Encarnacion and will use the veteran slugger at first base instead of primarily in the designated-hitter spot.
Toronto previously indicated that the majority of Encarnacion's at-bats this season would come as a DH. Encarnacion will still get some occasional starts in that role, but manager John Gibbons was quite clear about his role on the first day of official workouts.
"Well, going in Eddie's going to be our first baseman," Gibbons said Monday afternoon. "We have some options. We have to keep an eye on Eddie, too; he's had that back issue in the past. Hopefully this year he doesn't have to battle that, but it's happened. So there are going to be some days that he needs to DH."
The ability to use Encarnacion at first base would potentially create some additional at-bats for Dioner Navarro in the DH slot. Navarro admitted on Monday that he has requested a trade after the club's decision to sign Russell Martin, but if a deal cannot be found, this might be one way to find a compromise about playing time.
Other options at DH include Justin Smoak, Daric Barton and Danny Valencia. All three of those players also have the ability to play first and could provide Encarnacion with some additional rest when he requires it.
"We brought Smoak and Barton in to see what they can do," Gibbons said. "You also have Valencia against lefties, he might spend some time over there. So there's really a lot of unanswered questions. We have some good ways to answer it, some good solutions, we just have to figure out which way to go."