To get designated hitter Adam Lind into the lineup during interleague play, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons moved Edwin Encarnacion across the diamond to third base on Friday, and he plans to stick to the strategy through the weekend series in San Diego and a two-game set in San Francisco next week.
Encarnacion came up as a third baseman with the Cincinnati Reds but has been used primarily at first base and designated hitter by the Jays since the 2011 season. He played just one game at third in 2012 and 36 games in 2011.
What the Jays may be surrendering in the field – Encarnacion’s fielding percentage at third base has ranged between .892 in 2011 to .953 in 2002 – Gibbons hoped to gain on offence with right-hander Jason Marquis starting for the Padres.
Playing in the National League Parks, the designated hitter is taken out of the equation. Regular third baseman Brett Lawrie is on the disabled list and his backups, Mark DeRosa and Maicer Izturis, are each hitting .209. Lind leads the team with a .302 batting average.
“It allows us to get Lindy in there with Lawrie out,” Gibbons said.
An option was to bring Jose Bautista from right field to third base. Due to Petco Park’s expansive outfield, Gibbons wanted to keep the outfield intact rather than to put Lind in right. As is, the outfield defence is already hampered by left fielder Melky Cabrera dealing with a troublesome hamstring. Using Anthony Gose in right for Bautista would have left Lind or Encarnacion on the bench.
Lind was hitting .338 in May, with a .407 on-base percentage and .606 slugging percentage. Bautista was .361/.472/.588, Encarnacion .290/.361/.486.
The Blue Jays went into Friday’s game against the Padres needing a win to even their May record at 14-14.