One area where Encarnacion belies his youth is during pressure situations. He's a career .317 hitter with nine homers and 137 RBIs in 354 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Last season, he was a .360 with RISP.Defensively, Encarnacion has continued to work. In 2006, he committed a team-high 25 errors. Last season, it was trimmed to 16 errors, but just 10 were made following his return from Triple-A in late May. "I saw from when he first came into this league. If he caught it, quite often he'd throw it away," Baker said. "Now his throws are truer. [Bench/infield coach] Chris Speier has been working with him, much like he did with [Cubs third baseman] Aramis Ramirez to help make him a lot better. It's about footwork and quickness. He has the hands and he definitely has the arm." Under Jerry Narron, Encarnacion seemed to a frequent guest in the former manager's doghouse. Part of it stemmed from the frequent fielding errors and myriad of inconsistencies at the plate. One time early last season, he was benched for not running out a popup he thought was foul. Baker has chosen a different tact with Encarnacion, offering a reassuring hand while he's struggled this spring. Often when the two talk, Baker does it in Spanish so his player can understand instruction in his first language. "Before, nobody talked to me like he's doing right now," Encarnacion said. "He's helped me a lot. He's talked to me a lot. He's given me confidence. When you have a manager like that who talks to a player and explains to him how you're going to do it, you feel great. You feel comfortable. You know you have to play hard always for him and forget about everything else."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.