Despite spring layoff, Encarnacion's homer swing intact

Despite spring layoff, Encarnacion's homer swing intact

NEW YORK -- It didn't even take a full three innings before Edwin Encarnacion broke out his patented "chicken wing" on Opening Day.

Encarnacion homered in his second at-bat to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-1 victory over the Yankees on Monday. His infamous home run trot followed, and Toronto can only hope it's the first of many to come.

The impressive day at the plate came on the heels of a Spring Training when Encarnacion was limited because of a back injury. That was expected to cause some timing issues with his swing, but there were no signs of it against New York.

"I've been seeing a lot of pitches, and I've been aggressive in the strike zone looking for my pitch," Encarnacion said. "It felt good, I've been seeing the ball good."

Encarnacion appeared in only 11 games during the Grapefruit League season because of a sore back that kept him out of action for more than two weeks. In the end, he had 25 at-bats, which was almost half the amount that fellow sluggers Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson had this spring.

That's not exactly an ideal scenario, but Encarnacion returned just in time to get a full week of playing time in before Opening Day. That proved to be enough on Day 1 as he sent a 2-1 offering from Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka over the wall in left field.

Opening Day is one game, but it's still a stark contrast to the way Encarnacion began his 2014 season. Despite having a very strong year, Encarnacion actually began the season ice cold at the plate. His first home run didn't come until April 22, hitting .250 with a .747 OPS during the month.

"This game is crazy sometimes," Encarnacion said. "You feel good, but you don't look good at the plate. That happened to me last year, I felt good at the plate, but the result didn't come good for me. This year, I've been trying to do the best I can do, try to make good swings on pitches that I'm looking for, and it's been working."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.