TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have lost hard-luck, right-handed pitcher Dustin McGowan for at least the rest of this Major League Baseball season due to surgery while the future of third-baseman Edwin Encarnacion has been put in doubt after the club designated him for assignment Monday.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said designating Encarnacion is strictly a move to clear space on the 40-man roster so right-handed pitcher Scott Richmond can be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list.
Toronto has 10 days to either trade or send Encarnacion, 27, through waivers. If no one claims him on waivers, Encarnacion can report to triple-A Las Vegas.
Anthopoulos doubts anyone will claim Encarnacion.
“With the nature of discussions with teams, and with respect to the performance and salary of the player, I would say it’s unlikely,” he said during a telephone conference call. “That’s why we are fairly comfortable in saying we are pretty confident he will clear.”
Encarnacion, who is earning US$4.75 million this season, is batting .200 with nine homers and 22 RBIs. Too often this season he has been all or nothing at the plate and inconsistent in the field.
He was acquired from Cincinnati last summer along with pitching prospects Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke for third baseman Scott Rolen.
The Reds insisted the Blue Jays take Encarnacion in the deal.
Anthopoulos said he has spoken with Encarnacion’s agent and the player understands the circumstances.
“We still expect him to go down, hopefully play well, swing the bat like we know he can, and hopefully come back up here,” he said.
McGowan’s surgery is just the latest setback in his long comeback. He underwent season-ending surgery in July 2008, to repair a fraying labrum in his right shoulder.
The decision to operate came after McGowan had his shoulder examined by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
Richmond, 30, of North Vancouver, B.C., has been sidelined since spring training with a right shoulder impingement.
He has been optioned to single-A Dunedin of the Florida State League.
“It’s just a matter of him getting sharper with his command, maybe getting his velocity up a little bit,” said Anthopoulos.
“From a health standpoint, he is fine.”