CLEVELAND -- Newly-signed Cleveland Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion does not intend to play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Instead of representing his home country, the Dominican Republic, in the World Baseball Classic, which gets underway on Monday, March 6 in Seoul, South Korea, and Thursday, March 9, for the Dominican team, Encarnacion will spend his time in Spring Training acclimating himself to the Indians.
“I want to know all my teammates, and I want to be in Spring Training to know this team,” Encarnacion said at his introductory press conference with the Indians at Progressive Field Thursday.
“It’s a new team right now, and I want to get together with my teammates. If I go to the WBC, I don’t think it’s going to be the same for me because I don’t know too many of my teammates, so I think I’m going to stay here.”
Although the signing was not made official until Thursday, Encarnacion has already heard from several of his new teammates, including catcher Yan Gomes, who gave up his No. 10 in exchange for a yet-to-be identified gift.
“The first guy that I received a call from was (Carlos) Santana,” Encarnacion said. “We’re from the same country, and (Francisco) Lindor. If you guys don’t know, we used to live in Puerto Rico before high school, and I know (Lindor’s) dad and his family. We have a good friendship.”
In 12 years at the Major League level, Encarnacion has hit .266 with 1,439 hits in 5,409 at-bats in 1,513 career games. Of those 1,439 hits, 629 have gone for extra bases, including 311 doubles and 310 home runs. Also, Encarnacion has driven in 942 runs, scored another 829 and drawn 662 walks.
Encarnacion spent the last eight years of his Major League career with the Blue Jays. He made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005, and spent four full seasons with them before being traded to the Blue Jays in 2009.
During his final year with the Blue Jays, Encarnacion hit .263 (158 for 601) with 34 doubles, 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in over 160 games. He set career highs with the 158 hits, 99 runs scored, 76 extra-base hits, 127 RBI and 318 total bases. The 42 round-trippers matched his single-season career best.
Like Encarnacion, Indians president Chris Antonetti said the initial reaction from the players about the signing was “extraordinarily positive.”
“There were a handful of guys in here just before the holidays with Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Carrasco, Yan Gomes,” Antonetti recalled. “All of those guys were enthusiastic about it, and I’ve heard from a lot of the guys since. We all understand the impact that Edwin can have on our team and are excited to have him.
“It’s difficult to part with a guy that’s as respected as Mike Napoli is, but in the end, we felt Edwin was a great fit for our team, and are excited to have him.”