Encarnacion perfect at plate in return to lineup

After missing two games with sore finger, slugger reaches base five times

Encarnacion perfect at plate in return to lineup

ATLANTA -- Edwin Encarnacion made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Wednesday night and didn't waste any time making an impact with three hits and a pair of walks.

Encarnacion missed the previous two games with a sore left middle finger, and while it was still noticeably bothering him, the production was there. He sparked another big day at the plate for Toronto and played a pivotal role in the 9-1 victory over Atlanta at Turner Field.

The 32-year-old Encarnacion looked like his old self with three singles and a run scored. The impressive performance made him feel a lot better about an injury that has been a thorn in his side for the past six weeks.

"It feels better when you get the result that you have like today, three hits and help your team to win games," said Encarnacion, who has reached base in 43 consecutive games to extend his club record.

"I feel glad to keep doing what I've been doing, and it doesn't matter when I lose two games, three games, four days, I come back and try to do the best I can to help the team to win games."

Encarnacion's injury dates back to the end of July, and though it's a concern, the Blue Jays can take some solace in the fact that he has been able to produce despite the ongoing soreness. He missed four games in August, but enjoyed his best month of the season with a .407 average, 11 homers, 35 RBIs and a 1.379 OPS.

That's the good news, because the reality of the situation is that Encarnacion's finger likely will be an ongoing issue for the rest of the year. He has been told that the only way the finger can properly heal is by taking an extended break, and that's something the Blue Jays simply can't afford in the middle of a pennant race.

In the victory over Atlanta, Encarnacion grimaced and started shaking his hand after a swing and miss, and that's when the soreness is at its worst. When Encarnacion makes contact, the pain is almost non-existent.

"Right now, I have to deal with it," Encarnacion said. "I have to try to keep doing my treatment, keep doing my therapy with the trainers. Hope to continue all season, finish the season and come to the playoffs, and after we win the World Series it's going to be better."

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