CLEVELAND — If the Indians advance to the American League Championship Series, they may have to do it without one of their biggest offensive weapons.
Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who led the Indians with 38 home runs and 107 RBIs during the regular season, left Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday night with what the team announced as a right ankle sprain.
In an attempt to get back to second base and avoid a double play on a line-drive out from Jay Bruce in the first inning, Encarnacion stepped awkwardly on the bag and rolled his ankle.
He went down immediately, writhing in pain as manager Terry Francona and the medical staff rushed out to tend to him.
Though Francona said an MRI revealed no fracture, Encarnacion, who had to be helped off the field, was seen leaving the Indians clubhouse on crutches and in a walking boot.
“The severity of it, it’s going to depend on how he feels,” Francona said. “Right now they say he’s day-to-day, which if that’s the case, that would be tremendous. So we don’t have to do anything. We’ll see how he shows up (today). We obviously don’t want to rush into putting him on the DL. So we’ll see how he does.”
The Indians are better equipped than most to handle the injury to Encarnacion. All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley replaced him at DH on Friday and is expected to fill the role in Encarnacion’s absence.
Brantley, though, is also dealing with a right ankle injury that sidelined him for nearly two months and limited him to only three at-bats over the final two regular-season games.
Still, the loss of Encarnacion, who signed a three-year contract worth $60 million in the offseason to replace Mike Napoli in the middle of the order, would be a significant one.
He is the only player in the majors to have hit 30-plus homers the past six straight seasons and this year became just the fifth player in franchise history to record at least 30 homers, 90 RBIs, 90 runs and 100 walks in a single season.
“We were definitely feeling bad for Eddie. That didn’t look good,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us when one of our guys goes down or anything. We’ve just got to keep moving. I can tell you the morale in our dugout didn’t change at all. He went down. He’s one of our biggest players, but, again, like I said, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We’ve just got to go out there and try to win a ballgame.”
“Encarnacion is a huge part of our offense, our team,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He’s one of the reasons why we’re here, but the way Tito has done the roster, as well as the front office, it’s just we’re 25 men deep. It’s just not 10 guys, and that’s it.”
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