TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion isn't exactly known for his speed. But so far this season, it has become an asset on the basepaths.
Encarnacion, who stole a pair of bases against the Angels on Friday night, has now tied a career high with eight on the year. It's a mark he reached twice previously, but should easily exceed this season.
"Edwin is one of our better baserunners because of his ability to get a feel for a pitcher," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
"I thought at the end of [last] year, he was running really well. He came into Spring Training in great shape, and getting to know him over the course of last year, his instincts and his baserunning capability are good. You don't look at the body type of being a big strong guy and think he is a basestealer. But instinctually, he can capitalize on some opportunities."
One of the main reasons for Encarnacion's increase in activity on the basepaths can be directly tied to his work in the offseason. Encarnacion spent time with Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic and reshaped his body to improve his overall mobility.
That work is also paying off at the plate, where Encarnacion entered play on Saturday hitting .289 with 22 home runs and 55 RBIs in 74 games.
Bullpen bearing brunt of rotation's injury woes
TORONTO -- The lack of depth in the Blue Jays' starting rotation has begun to take its toll on the bullpen.
Toronto is trying to survive after starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison were all placed on the disabled list in recent weeks. That has left a heavy burden on the relievers, who have seen their workload increase with the lack of innings being eaten up by the starting rotation.
The problem has become a growing concern for manager John Farrell, who held a pregame meeting on Saturday with Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver to go over their status for the coming days.
"They've been pushed, and there are some guys that need some recovery time," Farrell said. "We go into every game with a certain plan, and that can change based on how far our starter goes.
"But what has been good is that our offense continues to keep us in the game, and we [have] come back from some deficits that might have been there early, mid-innings -- and all of a sudden, you're going back to those guys that you lean on late in the game."
One of those situations arose on Thursday night. Toronto found itself trailing by three runs heading into the seventh inning. But with the offense performing better than it has all season, Farrell felt the game was still within reach.
That prompted the use of Cordero, Oliver and Janssen in the following three innings in an effort to keep the score within striking distance. The trio, along with Frasor and left-hander Luis Perez, have allowed the Blue Jays to survive with a struggling staff. But there's only so much that they can do.
Farrell said prior to Saturday's matinee affair against the Angels that Oliver and Frasor would receive a day off, after combining to make four appearances in the past three games. The same will likely apply to Janssen, who entered play against Los Angeles having pitched on back-to-back days.
There's no easy solution. But what's clear is that the Blue Jays will have to get more out of David Pauley, Jesse Chavez and Scott Richmond -- who all have the capability of throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen. That trio will be relied upon to eat up some valuable time on the mound.
"That's why the guys that have the ability to pitch multiple innings become critical for us to be able to bridge the gap until later in the game," Farrell said. "That's where you go in with a certain plan and when certain things go away from that, you're back into leaning on the guys that close out games for you. There are days where you just have to say, you're down completely, and we're at that point."
Lind settling back into Blue Jays' lineup
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays like what Adam Lind can provide the club in the bottom part of the lineup. But if he gets into a groove at the plate, it's possible a promotion will be in order.
Lind began the season as the club's cleanup hitter, but was eventually demoted to the Minor Leagues. Since coming back earlier this week, he has hit out of the No. 8 spot -- although it could be just a matter of time before a change is made.
"That kind of power from the left side can really begin to balance us out even more," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "The thought was when he came back, is to just let him come back and get back in the lineup regularly, swing the bat free of mind -- and that's not to say he's going to be in the eight-hole for the remainder of the year.
"He's got the capability of moving up in the order -- which, in time, if he stays on the way he's swinging, I'm sure he will find himself a little bit higher up."
Lind recorded his eighth career multi-homer game on Friday night with a pair of homers against the Angels. It was just his fourth game since being promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas, but the immediate results were something Farrell hopes will spark Lind into a hot start.
"That always helps," Farrell said. "Any time a player goes through an adjustment, whether it's fundamental or from a mental standpoint, the results that come sooner are a good thing. It just reinforces the process that we're going through."
Lind hit .392 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 32 games for Las Vegas. He entered play on Saturday, hitting .202 with five homers and 15 RBIs for Toronto.