ATLANTA -- For the first time this season, the Blue Jays are on the road for an Interleague series, meaning this weekend presents their pitchers with their first opportunity to get into the batter's box.
Manager John Farrell said the Blue Jays pitchers have been working on hitting for the last month in preparation for Interleague Play.
"We've spent the last four weeks in between their starts, either individually or as a group, with bunting drills, with [batting practice]," he said.
Right-hander Kyle Drabek, who started Friday, walked through the clubhouse with a pair of bats before the game. Drabek never had a plate appearance in the Major Leagues, so Farrell isn't expecting him or the rest of the staff to do much at the plate.
"We look at it like, if we're in a situation where they've got to execute a sacrifice bunt, anything above and beyond that, we'll take it as a plus," Farrell said. "This is a different style of game than we're used to. Running the bases, all those things are part of their role as we get into National League parks."
Blue Jays pitchers were a combined 2-for-26 in Interleague Play last year. Left-hander Ricky Romero, who is scheduled to start Sunday's series finale, had one hit and the other belonged to left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, who is no longer with the team.
Blue Jays get boost with Encarnacion's return
ATLANTA -- As expected, Edwin Encarnacion was back in the Blue Jays' lineup for Friday's series opener against the Braves. Encarnacion missed the last three games after being hit in the right hand Sunday by a pitch from Red Sox right-hander Daniel Bard.
Encarnacion hit off a tee and took soft toss Thursday without trouble. After rest allowed the swelling on Encarnacion's hand to decrease, manager John Farrell said he was ready to go Friday.
"He needed the three days down while we were in Chicago, and with each day that he missed, the swelling continued to reduce, the strength continued to come back," Farrell said.
Encarnacion's return gave Toronto its cleanup hitter back. He was hitting .279 and was third in the American League with 17 home runs entering Friday's game.
The Blue Jays have mostly used Encarnacion as their designated hitter. But with the start of a three-game Interleague series in a National League park, he made his 17th start at first base.
"We feel comfortable with Eddie over there at first base," Ferrell said. "We were working he and [David] Cooper in almost every other day, so when we got into Interleague Play, if we ran Eddie out there three consecutive days it wouldn't take away from stamina or hopefully affect anything offensively."
Davis back in lineup after missing one game
ATLANTA -- A day after being scratched an hour before the first pitch against the White Sox, Blue Jays left fielder Rajai Davis returned to the lineup Friday against the Braves. Manager John Farrell said Davis jammed his finger sliding on Wednesday.
Utilityman Mike McCoy replaced Davis in the lineup Thursday and went 1-for-3 with a two-run single in the Blue Jays' 4-3 loss. But had Toronto taken a late lead, Farrell said Davis could have been a defensive replacement.
"[Trainer] George Poulis got him to the point where if we took the lead late, he would have been on defense in the ninth inning," Farrell said. "So he's good to go tonight."
Davis was hitting .253 with 12 stolen bases entering Friday.
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.