Gibbons deems Encarnacion ready for opener

Gibbons deems Encarnacion ready for opener

Edwin Encarnacion will be in the lineup when the Blue Jays open the season against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Manager John Gibbons confirmed Encarnacion's return on Friday after the veteran slugger made his final appearance in a Minor League game. The official word came one day Encarnacion spoke confidently about feeling "100 percent healthy" and ready to go for Opening Day.

Encarnacion will start vs. Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer and likely will be hitting fourth behind Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista.

"He played again today, felt great," Gibbons said. "He won't play tomorrow and he'll be ready to go Sunday."

Encarnacion did not appear in an official Grapefruit League game this spring because of an abscess tooth that was pulled early in camp and later an oblique strain. He returned to the Minor League side on Monday and appeared in four games before receiving clearance to start the year.

The 33-year-old has been down this road before after missing time last spring because of back soreness. Encarnacion started Opening Day, but he had a slow April before quickly turning things around to finish with another All-Star caliber season.

"He says he's ready," Gibbons said. "He's showing no ill effects, they say he's putting up some pretty good at-bats over there so that's all we really need."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for 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.