Encarnacion still out of Indians’ lineup with ankle injury

NEW YORK (AP) — Edwin Encarnacion remained out of the Cleveland Indians’ lineup Monday night in Game 4 of their AL Division Series against the New York Yankees.

The slugger has been sidelined since leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle last Friday.

“We’re hoping that he’ll be able to pinch-hit tonight,” manager Terry Francona said Monday afternoon. “That’s kind of where we’re at.”

Michael Brantley replaced Encarnacion at designated hitter again as the Indians, leading 2-1 in the best-of-five playoff, tried to reach the AL Championship Series for the second consecutive season. Cleveland had a chance for a three-game sweep Sunday but lost 1-0 to the Yankees as Brantley went 0 for 2 with a walk.

Encarnacion wasn’t even available off the bench in Game 3, Francona said. But the defending AL champions have chosen not to pursue replacing him on the active roster because that would make the three-time All-Star ineligible in the next round.

“I think we’re making the right decision,” Francona said. “Because to not have Edwin — and it hurt us last night — to just write him off if we can move on, that would be tough to do.”

Encarnacion batted .258 with 38 home runs and 107 RBIs in his first season with the Indians this year. Cleveland signed him to a $60 million, three-year contract after he spent seven-plus seasons with Toronto.

Jay Bruce batted in Encarnacion’s cleanup spot in Game 3 and struck out all four times up, stranding three runners. Bruce, a big star in the first two games, was back in the No. 4 hole Monday.

Brantley, who was 0 for 7 in the series, was moved up from seventh to sixth. The two-time All-Star missed Cleveland’s run to the World Series last year and only recently returned from an ankle ligament injury that kept him out for 50 games after Aug. 8 this season.

“I think the hope is that the more at-bats he gets, the more his timing will come back. And in the meantime, he finds a way to help us win a game,” Francona said. “I know it’s not ideal.”

“It’s pretty obvious that he’s not like, midseason locked in. I still think he competes and he’s intelligent, and I bet you he’ll find a way to help us win,” the manager added. “There’s a lot of belief in him. And I know it’s not easy. He hasn’t played very much.”

Lonnie Chisenhall was set to play left field after Austin Jackson started there in Game 3. Roberto Perez was the catcher for the second straight night rather than Game 2 star Yan Gomes.

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