EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 29, 2012

Q and A with Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion

After never hitting more than 16 homers in any of his first six big league seasons, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista came out of nowhere at age 29 to lead the majors with 54 long balls in 2010.

Two years later, his teammate Edwin Encarnacion is doing something similar.

Encarnacion, 29, set a new career-high for home runs with his 27th blast Thursday. He is on pace to smash 45 long balls.

A .265 career hitter, Encarnacion entered Friday’s game batting .299 with a .393 on-base percentage, .591 slugging percentage, .984 OPS, 27 homers and 70 RBIs. Can he keep it up?

Well, the Blue Jays front office obviously thinks so.

Earlier this month, Toronto signed Encarnacion to a three-year, $27 million contract extension that begins next season.

A lot of sluggers enjoy hitting at Toronto’s Roger Centre. Encarnacion certainly is one of them.

”The ball flies there so that’s why maybe everybody likes it,” Encarnacion said. “Wherever you hit the ball, the ball’s going to jump.”

The slugger recently went one-on-one with The Eagle-Tribune.

Eagle-Tribune: Did you do anything differently this past offseason to help make yourself a better hitter? Encarnacion: Definitely, yes. I worked out with Luis Mercedes, the same hitting coach of Robinson Cano. We worked out this offseason, and I think that’s all the difference for me for this year. He made me get my swing shorter and finish with two hands so I can stay more inside the ball.

I just to try be aggressive in the strike zone, looking for my pitch.

E-T: Has teammate Jose Bautista helped you at all?

Encarnacion: We’re always talking about baseball and the thing we’re talking about (most) is working out in the offseason. Like getting in shape, work out at the gym so you can come here healthy and play all season long.

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