PHOENIX — Edwin Encarnacion was signed to a $60 million, three-year contract this offseason to provide power in the middle of the Cleveland Indians’ lineup. It took a little while this spring, but he’s finally given his new bosses an up-close look at what he can do.
Encarnacion hit his first homer with the Indians in their final spring training game and Cleveland beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-4 on Friday night.
“He has such a nice swing. He wanted 40 at-bats and he got 50 (plate appearances),” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He knows himself so well. He’s ready.”
Encarnacion had at least 34 homers and 98 RBIs in each of the past five seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. He finished the spring with a .311 average and five doubles in 19 games, but the shot off Arizona starter Robbie Ray was his only home run.
Yan Gomes also homered off Ray, who is scheduled to start the fourth game of the season for the Diamondbacks, next Thursday against San Francisco.
Gomes ended his night with a second RBI, a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning that gave the Indians a 5-4 lead.
Ray struck out five over four-plus innings, allowing three runs, three hits and two walks. He departed after giving up a leadoff triple to Yandy Diaz in the fifth. Diaz later singled in one of five Indians’ runs in the sixth.
Diaz, informed on Thursday that he will open the season in the majors, hit .458 in 20 spring games.
David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas hit doubles for the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning, Tomas driving in Peralta with two outs. Peralta ended the spring batting .322.
Catcher Jeff Mathis, on his 34th birthday, was charged with three passed balls in the sixth.
“We wanted to get through today healthy,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “By and large it was a good spring for us. We accomplished a lot … we really feel like this team is ready to compete on Sunday (opening day).”
Cody Allen struck out all three Arizona batters he faced in the third. Bryan Shaw finished the spring with another rough outing, giving up multiple runs for the fourth time in eight appearances.
Shaw surrendered three earned runs on three hits and two walks in his inning, the fifth.
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley got Friday off, but he will be with the team for the season opener against Texas on Monday. That’s a good sign that he will be ready to play on opening day after coming back from shoulder surgery and associated setbacks.
Brantley hit .385 in eight spring training games, playing in the past three before Friday in an effort to get him ready for the opener.
THE FINAL TWO
The only roster spots in question for Arizona before Friday night were backup outfielder and a reliever. Jeremy Hazelbaker was told he’d made the opening day roster, and the Diamondbacks optioned right-hander Silvino Bracho to Triple-A Reno after the game, clearing the way for Andrew Chafin to win the final bullpen job.
“It was a very tough decision,” Lovullo said of the reliever competition. “We like the idea of having a second lefty in the bullpen.”
Hazelbaker can play all three outfield positions, Lovullo said, and Chris Owings, who will see the bulk of his playing time at shortstop, will play a little right field. Chris Herrmann and Daniel Descalso, two other reserves, can play left field and various other positions.
Nick Ahmed will make “a number of starts” at shortstop, Lovullo said, when Owings isn’t playing there or is in the outfield.
The Diamondbacks’ opening day is Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. Arizona is 6-3 in its last nine openers and will start the season at home in Chase Field for the sixth straight season and eighth time in the last nine years.
Indians OF Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch in the back in the sixth inning, but stayed in the game. The Diamondbacks put RHP Jake Barrett and LHP Steve Hathaway on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Indians: Cleveland starts the season Monday in Arlington, Texas, against the Rangers. Corey Kluber is set for his third straight opening day start.
Diamondbacks: Arizona opens the season Sunday at home against the Giants. Zack Greinke faces San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner.