You saw more than a few Edwin Encarnacion jerseys in the stands Thursday in Coca-Cola Field, but fans of the Toronto slugger didn’t get one last chance to see their hero in Buffalo.
The Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter, who blasted a grand slam here Tuesday night, ended his injury rehabilitation assignment after Wednesday’s game and rejoined the parent club in Chicago. He’s expected to play for the Blue Jays there tonight, his first appearance since suffering a strained quadriceps muscle July 5 in Oakland.
“He looks fine. I think the determining factor really is how much they need his bat in the lineup right now,” Buffalo manager Gary Allenson said prior to the Bisons’ 4-2 loss to Norfolk. “Is he 100 percent healthy? I don’t really know. Maybe not. But that’s not going to be the point right now.
“Getting that bat in the lineup that drives in the runs is what you need. They haven’t been swinging the bats too good.
That’s for sure. The Blue Jays were blanked in Seattle, 2-0, late Wednesday night as the Mariners completed a three-game sweep. Counting Sunday’s 19-inning win over Detroit, Toronto has scored just five runs in its last 37 innings.
Encarnacion was leading the majors with 26 homers and 77 RBIs at the time of his injury. He went 2 for 8 in his two games with the Bisons, with the grand slam on Tuesday and a single up the middle on Wednesday. He was able to run hard on a couple of ground balls and played Wednesday’s entire game at first base.
“He didn’t get plays over there, but he took some scoops, did some stretches so that was good,” Allenson said. “As for his running, he looked all right out there. He’s not a burner anyway. He has to gauge it.”
Buffalo’s starting pitcher for tonight’s game in Lehigh Valley (7 p.m. Radio 1520 AM) will be Triple-A rookie Daniel Norris. He pitched six shutout innings with 10 strikeouts in his debut Sunday at Durham. ... The Bisons are just 33-34 in games decided by one or two runs, an odd stat when you consider they’re seven games over .500 for the season and entered Thursday second in the IL in team ERA and first in defense. ... The final homestand of the season, an eight-gamer, opens Tuesday against Rochester.