TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion worked hard this offseason to shorten his swing and, ultimately, overhaul his mechanics entirely at the plate.
So far it has led to positive results, as the designated hitter entered Sunday's series finale against the Mariners leading the Blue Jays in homers (6), RBIs (19), extra-base hits (14), while hitting above .300 and added another solo home run against the Mariners on Sunday.
"The guy I worked with in the offseason told me that my swing was too long," Encarnacion said. "The ball on the outside corner, I'd been pulling a lot. Now I try to stay more to the middle and get my swing shorter with my two hands."
The guy Encarnacion is referring to is someone he worked with in the Dominican Republic and it was both of them who were the ones who sought to to correct the hitch in Encarnacion's swing and approach -- not the Blue Jays' coaching staff, although they noticed the same issues that plagued him last season.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell is pleased not only with the strong early-season results, but the adjustments on a whole, regardless of whether Encarnacion was the most consistent offensive producer over the first month of the season.
"It goes right to a two-handed swing," Farrell said of his swing. "Last year, we saw a sign that once contact was made, there was a release with the top hand and I think that can cause a hitter for his hands to get farther away from his body. This is a much more compact and repeatable swing.
"He's used this from Day 1 of Spring Training. It was noticeable from the start of the season. He's obviously repeating it. Some might think a two-handed swing might cause a reduction in power -- that's not the case with Edwin by any means. He's repeating a powerful swing consistently."
Farrell says that most players in the league don't have a two-handed swing, noting that the majority of them release their top hand at some point during their cut. Not Encarnacion, however, and it has allowed him to keep his front side closed as he gets ready to drive the ball -- something that wasn't the case for much of last season.
"The path of the bat through the point of contact is what has been more consistent and compact for Edwin," Farrell said.
Farrell confident 'pen can adapt to Santos' loss
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen has been thrown a curveball early on due to the right shoulder problems that caused closer Sergio Santos to be placed on the disabled list, but manager John Farrell believes his team can easily adapt with the arms it has at its disposal.
"In the current situation, I don't think it has changed things drastically by any means," Farrell said about Santos' DL stint. "[Casey] Janssen finished the year as our eighth-inning guy last year and it slides [Francisco] Cordero back into the closing spot. You never like to lose your closer, but, at the same time, we feel we have guys who have experience in the roles they're currently in.
"I don't think its created an upheaval by any means, even though it's disappointing to lose a quality arm in Sergio."
Janssen was Toronto's eighth-inning man last season and Cordero closed for much of his career -- including 2011 when he notched 37 saves with the Reds -- before signing with the Blue Jays in the offseason.
Farrell stressed that while Santos' loss is a blow to the club, there are many veteran arms capable of taking on a different and bigger role and they are eager to prove as much, especially Cordero.
"The one thing Cordero has been clear with is that he wants the ball every day," Farrell said. "To have that kind of experience of not only closing games out, but the frequency of use, we're fortunate in that regard.
"All guys are different and respond differently, but Cordero is a guy that can pitch frequent days consecutively."
Entering Sunday's contest against the Mariners, Cordero had converted on two of three save opportunities and appeared in nine games, which was as much as any reliever on the team. He also has the second-most active saves in the Majors with 329, trailing only Mariano Rivera.
Mathis makes rare start
TORONTO -- Jeff Mathis was given the start for Sunday's contest against Seattle, marking just the sixth time he has appeared in a game this season.
With J.P. Arencibia firmly entrenched as the starting catcher, and someone who Blue Jays manager John Farrell wants to play as often as possible, working in days for Mathis will be difficult.
But, unlike what Farrell did for much of last season with Brandon Morrow and Jose Molina, he doesn't plan to assign Mathis as a personal catcher for any of his starters.
"Matchups and schedule will probably be the determining factor as far as making sure Jeff is in the flow of things," Farrell said. "By no means should that be interpreted as a sleight of him. He's a talented catcher and has all the confidence in the world when he's running a game."
The only exception Farrell has to assigning personal catchers is when it comes to ace Ricky Romero, but even that isn't something he considers definitive.
"Ricky will typically be paired up with Arencibia due to their working rapport, but that's not to say that Jeff couldn't handle it," Farrell said.
Mathis has been known as an elite defender behind the dish throughout his career and nothing has changed in that regard this season. Farrell has consistently praised the 29-year-old backstop and applauded the working relationship that he has formed with Arencibia.
Mathis crushed a two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Mariners on Sunday.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.