Ortiz picks Encarnacion as successor
Red Sox slugger says Blue Jays DH is a good fit for Boston
SAN DIEGO — While holding court with news reporters after departing from his final Major League Baseball all-star game Tuesday, David Ortiz explained why he’s retiring, then briefly turned his attention to the player he sees as his ideal successor as the Boston Red Sox designated hitter.
“The Red Sox know they need to bring (power) to the middle of the lineup,” Ortiz said. “And, sorry Blue Jays, but who better than Encarnacion to do that?”
Less than four months from now, the Boston brass will get a chance to answer that question.
Toronto DH Edwin Encarnacion will become a free agent after the season, and the line of suitors figures to start but certainly not end with the Red Sox. While full-time designated hitters have become less common as teams seek to increase flexibility by rotating players through that spot, Encarnacion’s offensive exploits make him a valuable commodity even when he plays first base only 32 per cent of the time, as he has this season. Encarnacion, 33, leads the majors with 80 RBIs at the halfway point, the highest such figure in the game in three years. He’s also tied for third in the American League with 23 homers while sporting an .898 on-base plus slugging percentage.
With a short, compact swing that generates huge power, the low-key Encarnacion anchors a Blue Jays lineup that has produced the thirdmost homers in the league, yet is better known for more celebrated hitters such as reigning Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson and slugger Jose Bautista.
“I’ve been in Toronto for eight years and I feel very comfortable there,” Encarnacion said when asked about his future.