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."
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.