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Encarnacion set for ALDS: 'I feel great'

Yankees to go deep with pitching; Urshela recovered from ankle sprain
@BryanHoch
October 3, 2019

NEW YORK -- “The Parrot” says that he will be ready to take flight in the postseason. Edwin Encarnacion logged simulated at-bats at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday, testing his recovery from a strained left oblique, and the slugger said that he expects to return to the Yankees’ lineup

NEW YORK -- “The Parrot” says that he will be ready to take flight in the postseason.

Edwin Encarnacion logged simulated at-bats at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday, testing his recovery from a strained left oblique, and the slugger said that he expects to return to the Yankees’ lineup for Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Twins.

ALDS presented by Doosan, Game 1: Friday, 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network

“I feel great,” Encarnacion said. “I’m happy to be here. We have a competitive team. I’m looking forward to the playoffs.”

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 4 NYY 10, MIN 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 5 NYY 8, MIN 2 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 7 NYY 5, MIN 1 Watch

Encarnacion, Gary Sánchez and Luke Voit were among the hitters who took swings on Wednesday against Yankees hurlers Jordan Montgomery and David Hale.

The Yankees initially expected Encarnacion to return during the Sept. 27-29 series against the Rangers in Arlington, but manager Aaron Boone held off when Encarnacion expressed hesitation about swinging with full force in a game situation.

Encarnacion said that he has been swinging at maximum effort during workouts each of the last two days, the first time he has done so since straining the oblique on Sept. 12 at Detroit.

“He got off a lot of aggressive swings,” Boone said. “He came in today feeling good and looked good out there today swinging the bat. … He swung aggressively at a couple where he swung and missed. That's where you're going to notice it, and I think he got through that, so [Tuesday] was a little confidence builder for him.”

Boone said that Encarnacion’s status would be part of the Yanks’ discussions on Wednesday as they iron out aspects of the 25-man roster, which is not due to be formally submitted until Friday morning.

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While Boone does not envision using Encarnacion at first base, where the Yankees can select from some combination of DJ LeMahieu, Voit and Mike Ford, Boone said that he would be comfortable using Encarnacion in the field if necessary.

“As long as Edwin gets through today, we’ll feel good about the decisions we’ll have,” Boone said.

Call to arms
The Yankees are mulling carrying either 12 or 13 pitchers for the ALDS, and CC Sabathia will not be on the roster, according to Boone.

“There will be conversation as far as the two or three guys that we're considering for the final spot,” Boone said. “A lot comes down to what we decide from a pitching standpoint, taking 12 or 13. That'll certainly impact what we do on the position player side.”

Boone had said over the weekend that Sabathia “probably” would be on the ALDS roster. But the veteran lefty threw a simulated game Tuesday that left Boone unconvinced Sabathia's sore shoulder has recovered enough to allow him to pitch in the relief role the manager envisioned.

"He’s just not quite where it needs to be to be in the kind of role we're going to ask him to be in, where he's potentially getting up on the spot and then maybe having to get up later in the game,” Boone said Thursday.

Boone on Thursday also announced lefty James Paxton will start Game 1, followed by Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2 and Luis Severino in Game 3.

Ready to go
Infielder Gio Urshela said that he will be ready to play on Friday, having recovered from a mild sprain of his left ankle sustained in the final game of the regular season on Sunday at Texas.

“I'm here, I'm healthy,” Urshela said. “I'll try to do my best.”

Knocking off rust
Sánchez went 1-for-6 with four strikeouts in his two games against the Rangers this past weekend after being sidelined with a left groin strain. Sánchez has passed all health checkpoints, including catching six innings on Sunday, and said that he is working on getting his timing back.

“I feel normal,” Sánchez said through a translator. “I don't want to get too anxious. It's a big series coming up. … I feel like I'm seeing the ball better. I'm looking forward to Friday and hoping I feel like that.”

Up for anything
Left-hander J.A. Happ’s 161 1/3 innings ranked second on the Yankees this season, but the veteran has been told to prepare for use as a reliever, potentially as early as in Friday’s ALDS Game 1.

“Just be ready on Friday and go from there,” Happ said. “I think it'll be a game to game type of thing. … I think it's whatever it takes, whatever you do to try and win the ballgame. I'll be ready for whatever role. We'll find that out as we go along.”

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.