Lewis has earned spot in lineup

Lewis has earned spot in lineup

TORONTO -- It remains unclear how the Blue Jays plan on handling the upcoming return of third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. One thing appears certain when breaking down the situation: Fred Lewis would have to play himself out of a starting job.

"I would say that," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said on Sunday.

When Encarnacion landed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder on April 15, that created a chain reaction that led to Lewis taking over as the everyday left fielder. Former left fielder Travis Snider shifted to right and right fielder Jose Bautista replaced Encarnacion at third base.

Lewis has thrived since stepping into a regular role, hitting .299 overall and .305 as Toronto's leadoff man. If healthy, Snider will remain in an everyday role with the Blue Jays upon Encarnacion's return. That means the Jays will likely need to decide between Encarnacion and Bautista as the primary third baseman.

Gaston noted earlier this week that Encarnacion would "probably" return to the starting job at third base when he is activated. On Sunday, Gaston maintained that the Blue Jays do not have a target date established for Encarnacion's return to the lineup. The third baseman is still working through Minor League rehab games.

"It depends on him," Gaston said. "He's pretty healthy, but we want him to get some at-bats at Double-A and Triple-A. ... It certainly gives us more time to let him take his time and get himself back right, because things are going well. We want him back healthy this time."