Blue Jays get boost with Encarnacion's return

Blue Jays get boost with Encarnacion's return

Blue Jays get boost with Encarnacion's return
ATLANTA -- As expected, Edwin Encarnacion was back in the Blue Jays' lineup for Friday's series opener against the Braves. Encarnacion missed the last three games after being hit in the right hand Sunday by a pitch from Red Sox right-hander Daniel Bard.

Encarnacion hit off a tee and took soft toss Thursday without trouble. After rest allowed the swelling on Encarnacion's hand to decrease, manager John Farrell said he was ready to go Friday.

"He needed the three days down while we were in Chicago, and with each day that he missed, the swelling continued to reduce, the strength continued to come back," Farrell said.

Encarnacion's return gave Toronto its cleanup hitter back. He was hitting .279 and was third in the American League with 17 home runs entering Friday's game.

The Blue Jays have mostly used Encarnacion as their designated hitter. But with the start of a three-game Interleague series in a National League park, he made his 17th start at first base.

"We feel comfortable with Eddie over there at first base," Ferrell said. "We were working he and [David] Cooper in almost every other day, so when we got into Interleague Play, if we ran Eddie out there three consecutive days it wouldn't take away from stamina or hopefully affect anything offensively."