TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion has emerged as an undisputed leader on the field for the Blue Jays, and his performance has been a bright spot for an otherwise injury riddled roster. After a tumbling act on Wednesday night against the White Sox in left field, Encarnacion was back as the designated hitter in Friday night's 3-2 win over Texas.
The 29-year old hit his club-leading 31st home run of the season off Yu Darvish in his first at-bat, driving in Kelly Johnson and putting Toronto on the board early.
Encarnacion opted to adjust his swing in the offseason for a two-handed finish that has made a tangible difference in his production, but the visible effects translate outside of the batter's box, too, according to manager John Farrell.
"I think through his performance and increased confidence with the year he's had, we're seeing a guy who has become vocal in the dugout, a guy that has really taken on some of the young guys under his wing," Farrell said.
"It's been really great to see."
Encarnacion entered Saturday's game batting .294 with 31 home runs. He had reached base safely in 47 of his last 52 games dating back to June 16, and leads the club in walks with 60 -- one shy of his career-high 61 in 2008 with Cincinnati.
Bautista takes BP, ready for rehab assignment
TORONTO -- One of the biggest missing pieces from the Blue Jays' lineup is on his way back. Jose Bautista took batting practice on Saturday morning, ramping up his workload before he gets into live game action in Florida next week.
"Today was pretty consistent to a normal BP, which isn't typically full-game speed, but it's pretty close," John Farrell said. "With each successive day of work, either in the cage or now on the field, he's feeling more confident."
With everyone else out on the field, Farrell pitched to the 31-year old slugger, giving him a different vantage point and getting a good sense of Bautista's timing.
Bautista will play a Gulf Coast League game on Monday, and then be with the Class A Dunedin club for the three days following.
The Blue Jays' right fielder hasn't appeared in a game since July 16, when his left wrist gave him trouble, forcing him to the disabled list.
Unhappy with strike call, Escobar ejected
TORONTO -- Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was ejected from Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers after his popout with the bases loaded ended the seventh inning.
The first pitch of the at-bat to Escobar from Michael Kirkman was called a strike on the inside corner. Escobar briefly argued the call with home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson before flying out. After coming out onto the field for the top of the eighth, Escobar continued to argue with Nelson and was ejected.
Manager John Farrell came out to continue the discussion with Nelson in between innings, but he was not ejected. Escobar went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
Lawrie working his way back to Blue Jays
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will need to start thinking about roster moves in the upcoming week, with Brett Lawrie appearing in a Gulf Coast League game Saturday afternoon.
Lawrie was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 9 with a right oblique strain, but he has had no symptoms since beginning baseball activities as he works to re-join the club.
"He'll join [Class A] Dunedin for a couple of days," John Farrell said Saturday morning. "Hopefully, he meets us in Detroit."
Farrell called Lawrie's range of activity on the field, from batting practice to taking ground balls, "free and easy."
As for roster moves when Lawrie and Jose Bautista return to the Blue Jays, Farrell said that no one has been "ear-marked," and cites regular at-bats as a serious factor to be considered.
"With any of these guys, with no disrespect to them, you wait until the next phase begins and adjust accordingly," Farrell said.
J.P. Arencibia, who is on the DL with a fractured right hand, is in his strengthening phase after getting his cast off on Wednesday. He'll report to Florida in the middle of next week to begin rehab and start dry swings. Adam Lind, who is on the DL with a back strain, is also gaining some intensity in his activities, and Farrell hopes to have him back in the short term.
Steph Rogers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.