DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer, Colby Rasmus drove in two runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Detroit Tigers 9-4 on Saturday.
Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes left the game after the third inning due to tightness in his left hamstring. Reyes said his exit was just a precaution and insisted that he is fine.
Two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 2 with a strikeout and an RBI for the Tigers.
Encarnacion connected off Tigers starter Kyle Lobstein in a five-run first inning, which included a solo shot to right field by Moises Sierra and an RBI double from Melky Cabrera. It was Encarnacion’s third home run of the spring.
Encarnacion finished 2 for 4 with a double and three RBIs.
If you look at it, our regulars have been getting a lot of hits all spring,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We haven’t necessarily been scoring a lot of runs, but lately we have. But, top guys are swinging the bats pretty good. We’re kind of starting to put it together a little bit these last few days.”
Tigers outfield prospect Ezequiel Carrera homered and Tyler Collins hit a two-run double against Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond in the sixth inning.
Redmond, a candidate for the fifth spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation, allowed five hits, walked one and struck out eight in six innings.
Blue Jays: Gibbons said Redmond was outstanding during his first five innings, but thought fatigue settled in when the right-hander gave up four runs – three earned – in the sixth.
“We tried to stretch him out a little bit, but you look at his first few innings, he was dominating,” Gibbons said. “He had a real good splitter, nice little slider and was spotting the ball pretty good.”
Tigers: Lobstein yielded seven hits with five runs, one walk and four strikeouts in three innings.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the left-hander lost command too many times when he was behind in counts, which led to trouble.
“He was just getting behind, I think,” Ausmus said. “Command’s a big part of his game. When he gets behind, it tends to be a little more painful.”
Blue Jays: Gibbons said he doesn’t have any worries about Reyes, despite the three-time All-Star’s history with leg problems.
Reyes has landed on the disabled list five times in his career with hamstring injuries, most notably with the New York Mets in 2009 when he missed all but 36 games.
For now, though, Gibbons said he is not going to dwell on it.
“Zero (concern), right now,” he said. “If he hasn’t played a week from now, we’ve got a lot of concerns.”
Infielder Maicer Izturis felt better, but was given the day off after fouling two pitches off his ankle on Friday against Tampa Bay.
Tigers: Left fielder Rajai Davis missed his fifth straight game with a sore right hamstring. Ausmus said Davis participated in running drills for the second straight day and could return on Monday against Pittsburgh.
DON’T RULE OUT VIZQUEL
With shortstop Jose Iglesias out for the season because of stress fractures in his legs, Ausmus joked that he may need to convince Tigers first base coach and former major league shortstop Omar Vizquel to come out of retirement.
Ausmus said he’s actually spoken with the 46-year-old Vizquel about the possibility and thinks the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner could play on a temporary basis if he wanted to.
“He could probably do it part-time, to be honest with you. But then I’d have to go find a first base coach,” Ausmus said with a laugh. “I don’t know if he could play 150 games, but he could probably be a platoon shortstop if he got himself in shape. He certainly still has the hands.”
Vizquel played 24 seasons with the Mariners, Indians, Giants, Rangers, White Sox and Blue Jays before retiring in 2012.
Ausmus said starter Anibal Sanchez did not have any issues after his bullpen session on Saturday morning.
Barring an unexpected setback, Sanchez, who has been out with shoulder inflammation, will pitch in a minor league game on Monday in Lakeland.
“Everything went well,” Ausmus said. “We just want to see how he feels tomorrow; see how he bounces back. But if he’s fine in the morning, we’ll stay on schedule for Monday starting on the minor league side.”
The Blue Jays optioned right-hander Aaron Sanchez, first baseman Dan Johnson and outfielder Kevin Pillar to minor league camp.