Tight back not likely to nix Laffey's final start

TORONTO -- Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey, who is experiencing soreness in his back, remains scheduled to make his final start of the season on Monday against the visiting Twins.

Between the Majors and Minors, Laffey has logged 159 1/3 innings this season -- a significant increase over his 2011 total of 57. As a result, the lefty is feeling the general fatigue most pitchers experience at this time of the year, but manager John Farrell is not concerned and is encouraged by the progress that Laffey has made between starts.

"He felt a little soreness in his back that he is working through," Farrell said of Laffey. "He is gaining ground on that every day, and he's been able to play catch the last couple days and has felt good with it. We know where he is at physically at this time of year."

The 27-year-old Laffey has recorded the second-most innings of his career at the Major League level -- his high is 121 2/3 in 2009 as a member of the Indians -- and he takes a 4-6 record and 4.52 ERA into his final start.

Laffey signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays in September and began the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he went 3-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 11 starts.

Farrell considers Encarnacion MVP contender

TORONTO -- Toward the end of a career year at the plate, Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion should find his name toward the top of the American League Most Valuable Player ballot, according to manager John Farrell.

Entering play on Saturday, Encarnacion was tied for second in the Majors with 42 homers and was second in the AL in on-base plus slugging percentage (.950), third in slugging (.563), tied for third in RBIs (110), fifth in on-base percentage (.386), sixth in walks (83) and tied for ninth in total bases (302) and extra-base hits (66). His 4.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per baseball-reference.com, was ninth in the AL.

All of those numbers are career highs for the Dominican native, who signed a three-year contract extension plus a club option for 2016 with the Blue Jays in July.

"There is no reason he shouldn't be," Farrell said when asked if Encarnacion deserves to be in the upper portion of the MVP ballot. "He has been an elite performer from Day 1 of the season, and the numbers bear that out. We always speak of our own players -- what they mean to us. Not everyone else in other cities is going to see what Edwin has meant to this team, and understandably so.

"What he has meant to us has been an MVP type of year."

Teammate Adam Lind is confident Encarnacion will get the respect he deserves after getting snubbed for another honor earlier in the season.

"He will definitely get some votes," Lind said. "It's hard to be an MVP when they didn't vote you into the All-Star Game, unfortunately. It's hard to be an MVP when someone is going for a Triple Crown."

Lind was referring to Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who, along with Angels outfielder Mike Trout, is the front-runner for the AL MVP Award.

Cabrera already has Lind's vote in the Players Choice Awards.

"When someone is that close [to the Triple Crown] and we're talking about it, I don't see how you can't be," Lind said.

Farrell wouldn't say who would get his vote between Cabrera and Trout, but he said they are both equally deserving and are the top players in the AL at their positions. The manager said he hasn't focused too much on each player's individual campaign, other than when he is tasked with opposing them.

Farrell did add, though, that what Cabrera is doing is an eye-opening accomplishment. Cabrera entered play Saturday leading the AL with a .327 average and 133 RBIs, and he was tied for second with Encarnacion in homers, trailing only former AL MVP Josh Hamilton (43) of the Rangers.

"If a guy wins the Triple Crown, it might be one of the toughest things to do in this game because of the number of different pitchers guys face now every game," Farrell said. "You are having to hit off different styles, different looks. Rarely do you get four or five at-bats against the same guy anymore.

"Both guys are tremendous players, and [however] that works out -- they are both making a strong run for it."