Indians’ Encarnacion held out of Game 3 with sprained ankle

NEW YORK (AP) — Injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion did not play for the Cleveland Indians on Sunday night in Game 3 of their AL Division Series against the New York Yankees.

Michael Brantley replaced Encarnacion at designated hitter and went 0 for 2 with a walk as the Indians lost 1-0, preventing a three-game sweep. The move was expected after Encarnacion left Game 2 on Friday with a sprained right ankle.

Prior to the game, manager Terry Francona said he doubted Encarnacion would be an option off the bench Sunday, and the team considers his status day to day.

“The trainers are encouraging him to go down to the cage, probably like as we speak. Kind of see how he feels, get the blood flowing,” Francona said a few hours before the first pitch.

Francona said Saturday that Encarnacion was unlikely to start Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, but the three-time All-Star hadn’t been ruled out even though he used crutches and wore a boot during a day off in the series.

Encarnacion said nothing is broken in his ankle. The team had feared a worse diagnosis, but Francona said Encarnacion felt much better Saturday and the club had no plans to replace him on the roster.

The injury certainly looked bad. Encarnacion rolled in the infield dirt in obvious pain after going awkwardly into second base as he attempted to scamper back on a line-drive double play. But an MRI showed only the sprain.

Encarnacion batted .258 with 38 home runs and 107 RBIs in his first season with the Indians this year. Cleveland signed him to a $60 million, three-year contract after he spent seven-plus seasons with Toronto.

He was 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored in the first two games of the ALDS.

Jay Bruce moved up to Encarnacion’s cleanup spot and struck out in all four plate appearances. Brantley batted seventh against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

“Just thought it was a place where we could break up the right-handers and not put so much glare on him,” Francona said. “He’ll find a way to help us win.”

Brantley, who went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts after replacing Encarnacion in Game 2, missed Cleveland’s run to the World Series last year and sat out 50 games after Aug. 8 this season with an ankle ligament injury. The two-time All-Star hasn’t had a chance to play much since returning.

“It’s not ideal. I think he’d say that. But if anybody can find his swing, it’s Brantley. There’s not very many moving parts,” Francona said. “He can fend balls off if he needs to. He can fight for himself. I think if we have an injury, it’s awful nice having him able to slide in there. We hit him seventh tonight just because he hasn’t been playing much. He’s not a 7 hitter.”

Brantley was possibly going to play left field in Game 3 before Encarnacion’s injury. Austin Jackson was in left field instead, with Roberto Perez at catcher rather than Game 2 star Yan Gomes.


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