Injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion was out of the Cleveland Indians’ starting lineup Sunday night for Game 3 of their AL Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Michael Brantley replaced Encarnacion at designated hitter as the Indians tried to complete a three-game sweep and advance to the AL Championship Series. The move was expected after Encarnacion left Game 2 on Friday with a sprained right ankle.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Saturday that Encarnacion probably wouldn’t 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 and he is day to day. 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 series.
Brantley batted seventh against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, and Jay Bruce moved up to Encarnacion’s cleanup spot. Austin Jackson was in left field, with Roberto Perez at catcher instead of Game 2 star Yan Gomes.
Brantley, who replaced 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 was possibly going to play left field in Game 3 before Encarnacion’s injury.