TORONTO -- After missing the entire weekend series against the Red Sox with a sore left wrist, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup on Monday, when the Jays opened up a three-game set against the Yankees at Rogers Centre.
Encarnacion had offseason surgery on his left wrist, and aggravated the repaired appendage diving for a ball in Oakland last week.
The 27-year old took batting practice both Sunday and Monday, citing no serious pain. He has been taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce lingering swelling.
"It feels good," Encarnacion said. "I'm looking forward to playing today. That's what I wanted -- to make sure I don't come back and play too soon. We have one month left and I don't want to hurt it again. I want to finish the season strong.
Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill also returned to the lineup Monday after a scheduled off-day in Boston. The struggling Hill batted just .167 through eight games on the Jays' recent road trip.
Morrow-Molina battery in tact, for now
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has reiterated this season that he does not agree with starting pitchers having a personal catcher -- alluding specifically to the Brandon Morrow and Jose Molina battery.
Morrow however, taking the mound Monday against the Yankees, will be making his 13th consecutive start with Molina behind the dish. When working with Molina this year, Morrow has posted a stellar .222 batting average against, and a 3.07 ERA over 99 2/3 innings. In contrast, when pitching to Blue Jays primary catcher John Buck, Morrow has a .315 average against and a 8.81 ERA through 31 2/3 frames.
Despite wanting to stick to his guns, Gaston said he has kept the tandem together for two reasons: their continued success and as a result of favorable scheduling.
"I was close to changing it today, but I thought, 'Just leave it alone, let it go,'" Gaston said. "Molina got half the hits yesterday, so there you go. Can't take him out because he didn't get a hit. They seem to match up pretty good, and somewhere down the line it's going to change."
Because of the day-night transition, Gaston said Molina will catch Morrow on Saturday vs. the Tigers, and likely once more Sept. 3 against the Yankees.
The Jays skipper also added that the days off have been good for Buck, who returned just last week from a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to a right-thumb injury.
"Buck hasn't caught a lot lately," Gaston said. "He hasn't said a word to me, but I can almost bet you he's sore. You [sit around] for 15 days or so, you have to be sore somewhere. Just kind of working out for him, too. He'll catch up until Friday, and then get Molina in there on Saturday."
Gaston addresses columnist's ponderings
TORONTO -- Prior to Monday's contest against the Yankees, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston responded to a recent blog article written by Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox that pondered the integrity of slugger Jose Bautista's breakout season.
"These guys get tested all the time," said Gaston of Cox's suggestive tone toward the possibility that Bautista could be using performance-enhancing drugs. "They get tested. I don't know why he would say that. Because he's hitting a lot of home runs? Bautista is a strong kid, he works hard, so I don't really know where he's coming from. I have no idea."
Similar to Gaston, Bautista was baffled by the skepticism, especially from a writer he was not at all familiar with.
"I did not see it until somebody brought it up," Bautista said. "I could care less. The guy is paid to write something and he did. It's unfortunate. I don't know if he's trying to stir something up. He's got no base to be talking. I don't know why my name was tied up to it -- I haven't even read the article."
Cox, primarily a hockey writer, found it difficult to believe that Bautista, at the late age of 29, could go from career journeyman to Major League home run leader.
Citing examples from baseball's so called steroid era, Cox said, "The Nixonian way in which the Selig administration and the players association have chosen to deal with the steroid issue over the years, should compel any intelligent person to wonder when a player suddenly starts displaying abilities never before seen in his career."
Bautista, whose previous high in home runs was 16 in 2006, has hit 40 blasts already this year, including a two home runs Monday night. He currently boasts an eight-homer lead over second-place slugger -- three-time MVP -- Albert Pujols.
Though Cox made it clear that steroid suspicion is simply a byproduct of baseball's past, Gaston believes when it comes to attacking a player's legitimacy, one must still come with armed with facts so that speculation -- and only speculation -- doesn't gain validity.
"That's not nice of him to do that," Gaston said. "He doesn't have any proof, does he?"
According to manager Cito Gaston, reliever David Purcey -- 15-day disabled list since August 13 with a strained ligament in his right foot -- will likely return to the club sometime after Sept. 1. On that date, teams are eligible to expand their roster size, meaning the Jays would not have to make the decision to option anyone. ... Ricky Romero, who was supposed to partake in a Blue Jays Care Foundation event prior to Monday's game against the Yankees, left the ballpark early with a case of strep throat. Gaston said Romero showed symptoms of the illness during his start Saturday in Boston, but continues to feel the effects. He remains the scheduled starter Thursday against Detroit.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.