KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays have yet another injury to worry about. Edwin Encarnacion left their 5-0 loss to the Royals in Game 1 of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series in the eighth inning because of a sprained ligament in his left middle finger.
Encarnacion was sent for X-rays during the game, which came back negative, and he is considered day to day. Even though the news could have been worse, the injury is concerning because it's the same one that Encarnacion has been dealing with since July. Game 2 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. (FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet).
The veteran designated hitter missed a handful of games at the end of July, in the middle of August and again in September because of the sore finger. If Encarnacion isn't able to play in Game 2, then Justin Smoak likely would take over at first base while Chris Colabello would slide over to designated hitter. Encarnacion is the team's cleanup hitter, joining Jose Bautista to form one of the most dangerous middle-of-the-lineup pairings in baseball.
"It swelled up on him more than we've seen in the past," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Did that early in the game. We'll see how he is [Saturday]. Hopefully he can go. Usually, [after] a day or two, it calms down on him and he's able to get through it. We'll see. It's an early game tomorrow, hopefully he'll be ready to go."
Encarnacion dressed quickly after the game and did not speak to reporters before he left to receive additional treatment on his finger. He appeared to aggravate it early in Game 1, and was seen noticeably shaking his hand during an at-bat in the sixth that resulted in a strikeout.
The 32-year-old's departure came at a time when Toronto was threatening to get back into the game. The Blue Jays began the eighth inning trailing, 3-0, and had a pair of runners on base when Encarnacion's spot in the batting order came up with one out.
Toronto turned to pinch-hitter Smoak, who fouled out to first base. Colabello then followed with a groundout to second base as the Blue Jays came away empty against Royals right-hander Ryan Madson.
"It [stinks], he has been dealing with that this whole year," Blue Jays outfielder Ben Revere said. "It [stinks] to have to deal with that, but he's going to battle through it. He's the type of guy who has been playing through pain the whole year, but he hit like 40 home runs. Hopefully he'll be ready to go, and I think he will be."
The Blue Jays are currently without left-hander Brett Cecil for the ALCS. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki admits he isn't playing at 100 percent after he cracked his shoulder blade during a collision with Kevin Pillar in mid-September.
Tulowitzki missed three weeks and returned on the final weekend of the regular season, but he hasn't quite looked like himself at the plate. He's playing through pain, and having to play with two injured players in the lineup could take a toll on the league's top offense.
"It's definitely concerning," Tulowitzki said of Encarnacion's injury. "He's one of our better hitters. Obviously, for him to come out of the game, his finger was probably bothering him pretty good. But, we've seen it all year and he's responded well, so hopefully he's ready to go tomorrow."