Encarnacion set for BP, Minors game

Blue Jays slugger (oblique strain) hopeful for Opening Day

Encarnacion set for BP, Minors game

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Edwin Encarnacion appears to be turning a corner in his rehab from a strained oblique muscle, and the Blue Jays slugger is tentatively scheduled to appear in a Minor League game on Monday afternoon.

Encarnacion hit in the batting cage on Friday and will take on-field batting practice Saturday. If all goes well, Encarnacion likely will repeat that step Sunday and then should be cleared to play in a game.

The 33-year-old Encarnacion has yet to make a Spring Training appearance because of an abscessed tooth that was pulled early in camp and the oblique issue more recently. There isn't a lot of time remaining to get ready for the start of the regular season, but Encarnacion seems confident that he will be good to go.

"No pain, we'll see now when I start hitting BP, it will be different, but I want to do it and see where I'm at," Encarnacion said. "This game is not easy, sometimes it takes 50 [at-bats] and maybe you go 0-for-20, 0-for-10, and sometimes you only need 20 or 30 ABs and you'll be all right.

"If I'm healthy, I'm going to be ready for Opening Day. If I don't feel healthy, I'm not going to be ready. But if I am ready, it doesn't matter how many ABs I get down here, I'm going to go."

Toronto is scheduled to open the season on April 3 against the Rays. If he plays Monday, he likely would be able to appear in three Spring Training games before the club heads north for a two-game exhibition series against the Red Sox in Montreal.

Encarnacion won't appear in a big league spring game because that would impact the ability to backdate a possible stint on the disabled list. Toronto can make the move retroactive to March 25 if he doesn't play in a Grapefruit League game after that date.

"It's good it happened now and not during the regular season," Encarnacion said. "I'll take it now."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.