Encarnacion likely to debut 'a few days' after Bautista

Sanchez impresses with velocity; Cecil pitches scoreless frame

March 7th, 2016

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Edwin Encarnacion likely will not make his Spring Training debut until the beginning of next week.
Jose Bautista is set to appear in his first game at designated hitter on Thursday afternoon against the Yankees, and manager John Gibbons estimated that Encarnacion would play "a few days" after that.
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Encarnacion returned to workouts on Sunday after missing close to a week because of an abscessed tooth that had to be pulled. He was allowed to miss his regular training sessions because of the ensuing discomfort but is now back on the field and will gradually build up to game shape.
"Eddie, I'm not sure, probably a few days after [Jose]," Gibbons said. "He's been out a few days now, so [we're] getting him back into game shape. He has proven in the past that he doesn't need a whole lot [of time]."
Encarnacion, who is set to hit free agency at the end of the year, hit .277 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs in 146 games last season. He is set to begin the year as Toronto's cleanup hitter behind Josh Donaldson and Bautista.
About that velocity
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez allowed one run over three innings during Monday's 3-1 victory over the Braves, but after the game, most of the talk centred around his impressive velocity. Sanchez consistently hit 97 mph on the radar gun with his fastball and even had a couple of pitches register in the 98-99 mph range.
Those are the types of speeds Sanchez typically hit during his time as a reliever, but as a starter last year, he averaged 94-95 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. It would be tough to maintain upper-90s velocity throughout a prolonged start, but after Sanchez added 20-plus pounds of muscle during the offseason, perhaps it shouldn't be completely ruled out. Either way, he doesn't seem overly concerned about it at the moment.
"Right now, I'm not even trying. I'm just trying to make sure I'm filling up the strike zone and making sure I execute good pitches," said Sanchez, who added that the real point of emphasis Monday afternoon was his curveball. "To be honest with you, I don't think I've looked at the board once for velocity. That's just how good I'm feeling right now, and hopefully it continues to get better."
Cecil makes debut
Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil made his debut on Monday by tossing a scoreless inning of relief. He allowed one hit, didn't walk a batter and struck out one while displaying his traditionally effective curveball that touched 85 mph on the radar gun.
"I just wanted the calf to feel good," said Cecil, who tore a muscle during last year's American League Division Series against the Rangers. "I knew it was, but getting out there in a game situation and not feeling anything, which was the case. Not worried about results or anything, just wanted to feel nothing in the leg and that was it."
Worth mentioning
• Right-hander Rafael Soriano has yet to report to camp because of "visa issues," and the club remains uncertain of his exact arrival date. Soriano signed a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training during the opening week of camp.
• Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. was returned to Minor League camp Monday afternoon as the Blue Jays made their first cut of the spring.