09/30/12 7:20 PM ET
Hechavarria's instincts on field impress Farrell
By Chris Toman / MLB.com
Sunday marked just the 39th game of Hechavarria's Major League career, the majority of which has seen him play out of position at third base or second.
Through his time in the Minor Leagues, Hechavarria was known as a slick defensive player, with his bat being the part of his game that might hold him back at the big league level, according to many observers. But the 23-year-old has held his own, batting .261 over 111 at-bats and taking a career-high 10-game hitting streak into Sunday's series finale against the Yankees.
Farrell has been impressed by Hechavarria's ability to improve statistically with each promotion through the organization and the fact that the infielder hasn't shied away from the big league spotlight.
"He's impressive with his thoughts, his self-discipline," Farrell said. "He's a bright young player."
Earlier in the week, Hechavarria was named the MVP of the Las Vegas 51s, the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate for whom he hit .312 with six homers and 63 RBIs.
"He's impressive; he really is," Farrell said. "Darn good-looking player."
No structural damage in Romero's left knee
TORONTO -- Tests on left-hander Ricky Romero's left knee revealed inflammation where the quadriceps muscle connects to the kneecap but no structural damage.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said that moving forward, there is no concern with the knee and there is nothing to suggest that the left-hander will need any long-term rehab.
Romero injured his knee during the third inning of Saturday's 3-2 win over the Yankees and didn't come back out for the fourth. The 27-year-old tried to convince Farrell that he could stay in the game, but the team felt there was no need to risk anything this late in the year.
"There's a tendon that got a little flared up," said Romero, who took a no-decision and finished the season 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA. "It was more a precaution yesterday. Late in the year, you don't want to get hurt.
"When I was following through, I just felt something give on top of the knee. It was weird when I was watching the replay earlier this morning -- you could tell by the pitch and the way I jumped up, it was really painful."
Farrell said that aside from concern about Romero's knee, the Blue Jays were worried that Romero could have done damage to his arm by pitching through pain if he had remained in the game.
"The fear was that if there was any weakness in that quad area, that if he collapsed further on the mound in his delivery, does that put his arm in a different slot?" Farrell said. "So it was called a day."
Romero said he was more disappointed about his knee than anything because he takes a lot of pride in staying healthy and making all of his starts. He said he will listen to his body more during the coming offseason and, as an avid runner, he will avoid running on pavement as much as he has in the past.
Romero said that if he needs to go into the training room for treatment more often next season, he will. The lefty added that while his 2012 season was disappointing, he is looking forward to putting in the work this offseason that will allow him to regain the form that made him an American League All-Star in 2011.
Before Saturday's early exit, Romero stayed injury-free during a season in which Toronto lost three of its five starters from the Opening Day roster to injuries, including two season-ending injuries.
"It's unfortunate what happened with all the injuries," Romero said. "I know we keep tracing back to that, but a lot of these teams are healthy throughout a whole year, and if they're not healthy, they bring someone up who steps up. We had a lot of young guys that came up here, and they tried to do the best they could. It just didn't happen for us.
"The year I had didn't help much, either. I know for a fact this team is way better, and we're going to learn from this year as a group."
Encarnacion forced to exit with muscle strain
TORONTO -- Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion exited Sunday's series-closing 9-6 loss to the Yankees in the seventh inning with tightness in his upper left trapezius muscle, between the neck and shoulder.
Encarnacion experienced pain in that area earlier in the season and was able to work through it, but on Sunday, manager John Farrell had seen enough and lifted him for precautionary reasons.
"He couldn't finish his swing as normal as today progressed," Farrell said. "It was clear we had to get him out of the game."
Encarnacion went 0-for-2 with a walk and scored a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Adam Lind.
Farrell said the team isn't ready to shut Encarnacion down for the year, despite having just three games remaining on the schedule.
The Blue Jays will reevaluate Encarnacion on Monday, when they open up their final series of the year at home against the Twins. From that point, they will determine a plan.
"We will certainly be cautious with this, given where we are in the season," Farrell said.
Encarnacion is second in the Major Leagues with 42 home runs, trailing only Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera, who are tied for the lead with 43.
Colby Rasmus replaced Encarnacion and struck out during a seventh-inning at-bat against lefty Boone Logan.
Toronto split the four-game set.
Despite big year, Oliver undecided on future
TORONTO -- Veteran reliever Darren Oliver is enjoying the best season of his 19-year career, but he isn't sure if he will be back in 2013 to build off it.
The Blue Jays hold a club option on the 41-year-old lefty for next season and would certainly consider bringing him back, but Oliver hasn't yet decided whether he is prepared to grind out another 162-game season.
"I'm not thinking about it right now," Oliver said. "I'll worry about that when the season's over, when I'm at home, relaxing."
Entering Sunday's contest against the Yankees, Oliver was sporting a 1.78 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP, both of which are career bests. He's held opponents to the lowest average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of his career, too, while his 15 holds are the third most he has recorded in a season.
But what Oliver has done this year will have no bearing on whether he retires. That will come down to his wife and two kids, ages 10 and 12.
"I would never play this game and be away from them and take that away from them," Oliver said. "Every kid needs a father at home. That's important to me. I think it should be important to a lot of people. Baseball's second. Family's first. I've always said that."
Oliver said he's unaware of any potential deadline for him to make a decision, but manager John Farrell said the club will not push him.
"I am hopeful that he will say yes, that he will continue, for obvious reasons -- the way he performs, the way he handles himself," Farrell said.
"He's going to make the decision that he chooses to. Sure, I can say what I would love for him to do, but I don't press that issue. That's a personal decision."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.