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Encarnacion's ankle injury could push Indians' Brantley to the forefront in ALDS

Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Baseball

CLEVELAND -- With one awkward Edwin Encarnacion step to get back to second base, the Indians' Michael Brantley might have suddenly become an important part of the American League Division Series.

Designated hitter Encarnacion was injured in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday night at Progressive Field and had to be helped off the field with a trainer on either side. The Indians announced it as a right ankle sprain, but said Encarnacion would undergo further evaluation.

He was replaced by Brantley, plagued by a right ankle injury since Aug. 8.

The Indians had tied the game in the bottom of the first and had Encarnacion on second base and Carlos Santana on first with one out. Jay Bruce lined out to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was playing behind the second base bag, and he tagged the bag as Encarnacion tried to get back. Encarnacion was initially ruled safe, but the call was reversed by a replay review.

Encarnacion jammed his right foot into the bag and it bent awkwardly at the ankle as he fell face down into the dirt.

On Jan. 5, the Indians signed Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million guaranteed contract with a $5 million signing bonus. The three-time All-Star and former Toronto Blue Jay responded with his sixth consecutive 30-home run season, finishing with 38 homers and 107 RBI, leading the Tribe in both categories. In the second half, he hit 20 home runs and drove in 59. He also had a career-high 104 walks this season.

Encarnacion's 38 home runs were the most by an Indian since Travis Hafner hit 42 in 2006.

In Thursday's ALDS opener, Encarnacion went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that Encarnacion left the Indians clubhouse on crutches and in a walking boot and had a suitcase and a backpack with him as he got into a cart.

The Indians left themselves versatility when they put together their postseason roster and that will now be tested.

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