|Encarnacion expected to be in Yankees lineup vs. Rays|
At some point on Monday, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone will write Edwin Encarnacion's name into his lineup card as the designated hitter.
The slot Encarnacion occupies in a powerful batting order will be revealed sometime Monday afternoon but Boone and the rest of the Yankees are excited about adding the American League home run leader as they host the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game series between the top two teams in the American League East.
Encarnacion was acquired from the Seattle Mariners Saturday and will join the Yankees Monday for the start of a 10-game homestand against Tampa Bay, Houston and Toronto.
His acquisition for a team with homers in 19 consecutive games is part of Seattle's desire to shed major salaries and the Yankees are absorbing approximately half of the remaining $16 million Encarnacion is guaranteed, which includes a $5 million buyout of the $25 million club option for next season.
"We're talking Edwin Encarnacion," Boone said before New York salvaged a split of a four-game series in Chicago with a 10-3 rout over the White Sox. "When you get a guy of his caliber, that's something we're excited about. He's obviously a great hitter, he has been for a long time and continues to be."
Encarnacion leads the league with 21 homers and batted .241 to go along with 49 RBIs.
Encarnacion's addition and Giancarlo Stanton's anticipated return from the injured list Tuesday impacted Clint Frazier, who was optioned to Triple-A Sunday. It will also impact playing time for Brett Gardner, who drove in four runs Sunday.
"Any time you can add somebody as good as Edwin, he's a guy who's going to make us better so we look forward to getting him on board," Gardner said. "How that affects me, that's not something I'm worried about."
The Rays head to New York a half-game out of first place after getting a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels Sunday. Coincidentally, they are responsible for paying Seattle $5 million on Aug. 1 from the three-team trade that sent Encarnacion to the Mariners and Yandy Diaz from Cleveland to Tampa Bay.
Diaz hit an RBI single in the eighth inning Sunday for the Rays, who play 11 of their next 28 games through July 18 against the Yankees.
"It's always a hostile environment over there," Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "Those fans, they let you know what they feel, trust me. But it's also a great thing quieting that crowd anytime you can.
"Their fans are going to know that we're head-and-head with their guys. It's going to be an electric atmosphere, and we look forward to playing in that."
Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for the Yankees and he made two strong starts in a span of five days last month against Tampa Bay. In a 7-1 win at Tampa Bay on May 12, he allowed one run on five hits in seven innings and on May 18, Tanaka allowed three hits in six scoreless innings of an eventual 2-1 loss decided on a homer by Austin Meadows in the 11th.
Tanaka is 9-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 career starts against Tampa Bay and 4-1 in those starts in New York.
Tanaka last pitched in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Mets when he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay was originally slated to use an opener but will start Yonny Chirinos (7-2, 2.88 ERA). Chirinos is 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA in eight outings as a starter and last pitched Wednesday against Oakland when he allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.
He is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in four career appearances (one start) against New York.
--Field Level Media