TORONTO -- A scary incident during Thursday night's game against the Mariners has reopened the debate on the potential dangers associated with the use of maple bats.
Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton was struck in the dugout by a broken bat during the first inning of Thursday's 8-3 victory over Seattle. The bat was headed for Walton's head, but he was able to get his arms up in time to block its path.
Walton was diagnosed with a contusion on both of his forearms, avoiding a potentially serious injury. Still, the frequency with which maple bats tend to shatter has manager John Farrell thinking changes should be made.
"If there's not a way to improve the current condition of them," Farrell said when asked if they should be banned. "I think it's a matter of time before someone else gets impaled.
"When there were only ash bats, was there a problem? I say no more."
Maple bats are legal, but have a tendency to shatter much more often than their ash counterparts. Some players prefer maple because it's a harder wood and they like the way the ball comes off the bat. But there's also the increased danger of shards causing serious injuries on the field.
In Walton's case, the danger was expanded to the dugout as well. He avoided major harm, but he is still not able to bend his left elbow without a lot of discomfort. His right arm is feeling better but is still severely bruised.
"I saw the barrel blow up, figured the barrel went on the playing field side, and I was staring at it and I was like, 'Oh, God.' I put my hands up and took the hit," Walton said. "I was very fortunate that I got my hands up.
"Obviously, I was a bit scared after when I was down on the ground, because it did hurt. It had some power behind it. I was like, 'Oh, wow, what was that?'"
The problem isn't exactly a new one and almost every game, there are at least a couple incidents of shattered bats. Most of the time, it doesn't cause a major incident, but then there are situations like Thursday night.
"We see it every night, where there are near-misses," Farrell said. "And people openly talk about it at field level, and you see it routinely.
"It clearly has the ability to affect the outcome of the game as well. When we talk about a play not made because of bats that are flying through the air that pre-maple bats weren't, it has an effect on the game."
Blue Jays cautious, keep Encarnacion on bench
TORONTO -- Edwin Encarnacion was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup on Friday night because of a sore left wrist.
Encarnacion was hit by a 91-mph pitch from Felix Hernandez during the third inning of Thursday night's game against Seattle. The 29-year-old Encarnacion remained in the game and later homered, but he arrived at Rogers Centre the following day feeling sore.
The injury isn't considered serious and Encarnacion is expected to make his return to the lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Red Sox.
"He's a little sore from getting hit in the wrist," manager John Farrell said. "More than anything, precautionary, he's out."
Encarnacion became just the fifth player in the Major Leagues since 2010 to reach the 40-homer plateau when he went deep off Hernandez on Thursday as part of a five-run fourth inning.
The Dominican native entered play this weekend just one back of Texas' Josh Hamilton for the league lead in homers. Encarnacion also became the fifth player in the big leagues this season to surpass the 100-RBI plateau.
"I think, for me, it's the 100 RBIs," Encarnacion said when asked which had more significance. "It's hard to get 100 RBIs, it's not easy. I never got to 80 [before], so to get to 100 RBIs, not many people make it there, so that's big for me."
Encarnacion is hitting .279 with 40 homers and 102 RBIs in 138 games this season. He also owns a .946 OPS while recording 63 extra-base hits in 498 at-bats.
Club policy dictates Toronto will wait on Davis
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays won't decide the fate of left fielder Rajai Davis until the end of the season.
Toronto has a team option on Davis for the 2013 season valued at $3 million, which also contains a $500,000 buyout. If the option is not picked up, the veteran outfielder would become eligible for free agency. In Davis' case, the decision must be made within three days after the completion of the World Series.
The decision to take a wait-and-see approach with Davis has less to do with his performance this year and more to do with club policy on these types of contracts.
"We, always with the option decisions, wait right up until the end," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Who knows what happens and we just wait for the games to be played, because again, things change. Guys get hurt, guys don't perform, something happens. Someone might come up in trade or there might be a free-agent discussion."
Davis has spent the majority of this season as the Blue Jays' starting left fielder. He entered play on Friday hitting .245 with seven homers and 38 RBIs in 125 games. Davis ranks second in the American League in 2012 with 43 stolen bases while being thrown out 11 times.
The Blue Jays are expected to seek a potential upgrade in left field during the offseason, but that doesn't mean Davis won't be in the club's plans. He has the ability to play all three outfield positions and can be a game-changer on the basepaths.
That skill set could become extremely valuable off the bench if the Blue Jays do add another left fielder in the offseason.
"Overall, I think Rajai has been solid, he has certainly improved over last year," Anthopoulos said. "I think he's a valuable player to have. I think everyone would like to have him on your team. You're always weighing what the option price is.
"You're looking at his option salary is $3 million, with a $500,000 buyout attached to that. So it's really a $2.5 million expense one way or the other. From that standpoint, it's just something -- he has done a good job for us, but we'll have to make a decision at the end of the year. He has been solid."