Encarnacion willing to play first whenever needed

Encarnacion willing to play first whenever needed

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Edwin Encarnacion moved quickly to dismiss a report that he has informed the Blue Jays of his preference to become a full-time designated hitter.

Toronto-based radio station Sportsnet 590 The Fan reported Thursday morning Encarnacion told the Blue Jays that he would rather DH this season as opposed to playing first base.

A group of reporters approached Encarnacion following a morning workout to broach the subject, and the 31-year-old laughed out loud. He also shook his head and appeared genuinely surprised by the news.

"I never said that," Encarnacion said. "Whatever the manager wants to do, I'm ready for it. If I have to play every day at first, I'll play. If I have to play both, I'm ready for it. ... I don't know where that came from."

The timing of the report was rather unusual considering Encarnacion played first base during Wednesday's spring opener and was back at the position again Thursday afternoon against the Phillies. He has been taking ground balls at the position on a daily basis, and all indications are that Encarnacion will once again split time on the right side of the infield with Adam Lind.

Encarnacion has been known in the past to enjoy his time at DH. That provides him with an opportunity to go into the clubhouse between at-bats and watch video to study the opposing pitcher.

"That's the only thing, I like to play DH sometimes because I have more time to go to the computer, watch the pitcher, watch the video," Encarnacion said. "When you play defense, you don't have time to do that, but for me, if I have to play first base, I don't have a problem with that. I made adjustments."

The overall plan is unlikely to change from previous seasons. Last year, Encarnacion played 79 games at first base and 55 at DH. Lind typically gets the start at first when Encarnacion is in the lineup as a DH, and the timeshare has allowed both players to remain relatively fresh.

Lind has dealt with back issues in each of the past three seasons, and it would appear unlikely that he could be relied upon to play first base on an everyday basis. The Blue Jays intend to divide time in the field between the two players.

"I'll be ready for whatever they need me to do," said Encarnacion, who hit .272 with 36 homers and 104 RBIs last season.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.