Encarnacion homers, Blue Jays pound Tigers, 9-4

JEFF ODOM Associated Press Published:

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.

STARTING TIME

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."

TRAINER'S ROOM

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.

SANCHEZ THROWS

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."

ROCKIES 16, INDIANS 4

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jordan Pacheco hit a two-run homer and Paul Janish capped a five-run sixth inning with a two-run double, leading a Colorado Rockies' split-squad to a 16-4 rout of the Cleveland Indians.

Pacheco hit his first home run with a man on in the fifth inning as Indians starter Corey Kluber gave up seven runs over his last two innings.

Nolan Arenado was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Kluber. He was examined and removed from the game.

Michael Brantley doubled and tripled off Rockies starter Jordan Lyles to drive in three runs for Cleveland.

Mike Aviles hit his second home run of the spring, off Adam Ottavino.

Rockies designated hitter, Tim Wheeler, hit a three-run home run off Josh Outman in a five-run eighth.

REDS 8, CUBS 3

MESA, Ariz. -- Brandon Phillips hit his third home run in four games and Roger Bernadina added to his big spring for Cincinnati, belting a three-run shot and driving in four runs to help the Reds defeat the Chicago Cubs, 8-3.

Bernadina, who went deep in the first inning off starter Edwin Jackson, is hitting .417 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani, a likely member of the rotation, gave up three runs and five hits in 41/3 innings. He struck out three and walked four.

Jackson, slated to start the second game of the season in Pittsburgh, allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked one.

Anthony Rizzo went 3 for 3 for the Cubs, raising his batting average to .368.

Indians release OF Jeff Francoeur

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians released outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

The Indians signed the 30-year old to a minor league free-agent contract on January 6 and invited him to major league training camp.

Francoeur had 35 at-bats with the Indians this spring, hitting .286 with one home run and 10 RBI.

The Indians signed infielder/outfielder Elliot Johnson to a minor league contract on January 27. Johnson's versatility made him the better choice for the Indians according to general manager Chris Antonetti.

"Jeff had a really good camp. For us it's the decisions for how we put all the pieces together and not individually who is the best player," Antonetti said. "Elliot had a great camp. His versatility helps us expand our bench. He gives us a lot of different options. He and Mike Aviles really complement the guys that we have."

Francoeur played 59 games for Kansas City last season, hitting .208 with three home runs and 13 RBI. He was released by the Royals on July 5 and signed by the San Francisco Giants four days later. Francoeur hit .194 for the Giants in 22 games with no home runs and four RBI.

The Indians want to help Francoeur find another job in the major leagues, which led to the timing of the decision.

Masterson talks suspended

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians have suspended contract talks to focus on preparation for the regular season.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said he spoke with Masterson about the talks Friday. The sides may talk about at a new deal at later unspecified time.

Masterson and the Indians avoided arbitration in February with a one-year contract worth $9,726,500. He is eligible for free agency after the season.

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