ST. PETERSBURG -- Jesse Litsch finally received some good news about his injured right shoulder on Tuesday morning.
The results from a series of blood tests came back and confirmed that the infection in his shoulder is now completely gone. That was the initial belief after Litsch underwent an emergency procedure this spring to clear up the infection, but when the pain never went away after the surgery, there was cause for added concern.
Litsch can now move forward with his rehab in clear conscience, but still faces a long road back to full recovery.
"I still have a lot of pain, but we're still working with team doctors and trying to get it all figured out," Litsch said. "It's something that is very rare, hasn't been caused much, hasn't been done much, we're trying to figure things out, work through it and it's an everyday grind."
The infection was caused following a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in February by surgeon Dr. James Andrews to treat inflammation in Litsch's right shoulder. The procedure involves injecting portions of a patient's blood into the affected area with the hope that it accelerates the healing process.
The blood that is used during the treatment is removed from the body and then rotated at high speed to separate red blood cells from the platelets. The platelets release proteins and other particles that are used in the healing process, and a small amount is then inserted back into the body through the infected area.
Litsch had the relatively common procedure previously done on his right elbow after Tommy John surgery, but this time something went wrong.
"It's something that is routine, it has been done a lot," Litsch said. "It's newer within the past 10 years but it's had a lot of success and they did it via ultrasound, which is something that was new and something along the way got messed up, and it caused an infection in my arm. It has been a grind ever since."
Litsch will attempt to rehab the shoulder for at least the next month, but if the pain does not subside, he likely will have to undergo yet another surgery.
The 27-year-old Litsch began last season in the starting rotation, but eventually transitioned to the bullpen where he went 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. He is 27-27 with a 4.44 ERA in his career.
Encarnacion continues to play through back pain
ST. PETERSBURG -- Edwin Encarnacion continues to play on an everyday basis despite dealing with a minor back injury.
Encarnacion began experiencing pain in his back during a recent series in Anaheim. He has been receiving regular treatment ever since, but his recent transition from designated hitter to first base likely compounded the issue.
The 28-year-old went through some light hitting drills prior to Tuesday's game against the Rays before being cleared for action.
"He went down and swung the bat early in the cage and felt fine, or felt well enough to be in the lineup tonight," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Any time you're dealing with a back, it's going to be involving any type of movement. Most importantly, though, he felt OK when swinging the bat early before the game."
Encarnacion, who started at DH on Tuesday, will continue to receive regular playing time at first base following the departure of veteran Adam Lind, but his overall workload at the position will be monitored.
The Dominican native entered play against the Rays hitting .262 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs in 43 games this season.
Change in approach paying off for Rasmus
ST. PETERSBURG -- A minor tweak in Colby Rasmus' approach at the plate has led to impressive results in the past two days.
Rasmus has moved up in the batter's box, and even though it's only a difference of approximately eight inches, the initial reports have been positive.
The 25-year-old entered play on Tuesday having recorded three hits and a pair of doubles in the two games since making the adjustment.
"When he was deeper in the box, it gave him a little bit more time to read the pitch," manager John Farrell said. "I think some of that added time, maybe allowed some opportunity for some additional thoughts to get in there.
"[He began] thinking about other things other than just see the ball and hit the ball and take a more aggressive swing. I think at times he has tried to work the ball around the field, staying inside some pitches, hitting some balls into left-center field. His strength is on the pull side, he showed that last night, and I think that's the swing that makes him most productive."
The minor change in the batter's box stemmed from a conversation following Friday's game against the Mets. Rasmus received the night off and had a lengthy talk with the Blue Jays' coaching staff that lasted well into the middle of the night.
That prompted Rasmus to go back to a spot in the batter's box that he used earlier in his career with St. Louis.
"Most importantly, Colby has gone back to a position in the box that he's familiar with," Farrell said. "I think getting that familiarity there and taking some of the thought out of it and just reacting to the pitch is really what has allowed him to show the swings again last night."
Rasmus entered play on Tuesday hitting .214 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 42 games this season.