Encarnacion further delayed by oblique injury

Blue Jays shut down DH, who has yet to play in Grapefruit game, for a week

Encarnacion further delayed by oblique injury

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion has been shut down for a week due to an oblique issue, manager John Gibbons announced Tuesday.

Encarnacion had missed time earlier this spring due to an abscessed tooth being pulled, and he has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game.

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"It's minor, but those things can turn into bad things if you don't watch it, so that's on hold," Gibbons said of Encarnacion's delayed spring debut.

Encarnacion, a two-time All-Star with the Blue Jays, was a mainstay in the powerful lineup last season. He hit .277 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs in 146 games.

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Spring Training is a time for most hitters to get their timing down, meaning there may be concern about whether Encarnacion can get enough at bats to be ready for Opening Day. Gibbons was confident the 33-year-old would be ready.

"He's had some back issues, some leg issues in the past in Spring Training, and he comes out fine," Gibbons said. "I can't remember exactly the kind of starts he has after those things, but he's one guy that probably doesn't need as many at-bats. He's shown that, I think."

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Instead, the concern is that a mild oblique injury could become a more serious one for Encarnacion, especially with the twisting and turning from the core that goes into every swing of the bat.

"You're always worried about that," Gibbons said. "Those can turn into long-term deals. He's not at that point, but if we don't protect him now, it could turn, so that's why we back him off."

Encarnacion's contract is set to expire at the end of this season. Gibbons added he has "no idea" what will happen after this year in terms of an extension, but he is instead focused on 2016. Encarnacion had previously set a deadline of Opening Day for negotiations for an extension.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.