CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – When Edwin Encarnacion was writhing in pain on Friday after turning his ankle in the 1st inning, there was talk about his removal from the Cleveland Indians’ ALDS roster, thus eliminating him from playing in the ALCS.
By mid-day Saturday, there was already talk of Encarnacion being available on Sunday in ALDS Game 3.
“He is, I would say, I don’t know if remarkably better is a good word, but pretty close,” Manager Terry Francona told reporters in New York. “He’s doing much better today. I don’t think he’s going to start tomorrow, but he’s not been ruled out either.
“So we’ll take our time and allow to him continue to get treatment. But if he’s that close to being available, that’s a really good sign. So we’re obviously not going to do anything roster-wise.”
Encarnacion left Progressive Field in a walking boot and on crutches Friday night, and also showed up to Yankee Stadium on crutches again on Sunday. Still yet, Francona’s tone was optimistic.
“He came in on crutches, so I don’t think you’re going to see him stealing any bases, but we’ll let the medical people do their stuff today. We’ll let them do their stuff tomorrow and then we’ll kind of see where he’s at,” the skipper added. “He might be able to pinch-hit. He might not be able to pinch-hit. He might be able to DH. We’ll see. There’s no way to know yet.”
If the team’s top RBI-man could not go, Francona said his decision on where Michael Brantley would play would be a no-brainer, as the recovering outfielder would ‘walk into the DH spot.’
If Encarnacion is available, the option remains open that Brantley will start the game in left field, as Francona alluded to on Friday. The decision seemed like much less of a sure thing when the manager announced it before Game 2, but Francona said that the man who worked so hard to get back healthy would be contributing one way or another if ready.
“For him to get an opportunity to be part of what we’re doing is extra meaningful to him,” Francona said. “And before Edwin went down, he was most likely going to play left field as long as he felt physically good enough. But just now, just kind of makes it easy. If you have a choice to make, and you have an open slot at DH, it just seems common sense to put him there.”