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Today in Blue Jays history: Encarnacion DFAed

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Eleven years ago today.

The Blue Jays DFAed Edwin Encarnacion.

On June 21, 2010, Edwin was hitting .200/.298/.467. Just a month earlier, he had hit 3 home runs in a game against the Diamondbacks. The team had talked about sending him down to the minors, but they wanted a spot on the 40-man roster for Scott Richmond, who was coming off the 60-day DL.

Could you imagine we could have lost Edwin because we wanted Richmond on the roster? And that’s not on the active roster....Scott had finished his rehab time, and they wanted him back on the 40-man. They thought there was more chance Richmond would be taken on waivers than Edwin.

Richmond wouldn’t pitch for the Blue Jays that season. He got 1 out in 2011 and pitched 3 innings in 2012, and was out of the MLB.

We were less than pleased. Alex Anthopoulos had a press conference later that day, and he explained the team was ‘confident’ Edwin would clear waivers. And he did.

Edwin went down to Dunedin and then Las Vegas (where we had our Triple-A team at the time). He played ten minor league games and then was called back to the Jays on July 3. By the end of July, he had brought his BA up from .200 to .240.

He finished the season with a .244/.305/.482 batting line, 21 home runs, and 51 RBI. He soon became the Edwin Encarnacion that we would come to love. There were Edwin haters at the time. If you go thru the comments on the Alex press conference post, you can see people calling Edwin lazy, which, for me, is the silliest complaint about baseball players.

The story that gets told is that he found his swing in the minors. I’m not sure if that’s true. I think getting him off third base and letting him concentrate on his hitting helped. Guys with power like Edwin’s sometimes take a bit to find it.

After the season, the Jays would again DFA him, and the A’s took him on waivers but then released him a month later, and we signed him as a free agent.

It was a long and winding road that Edwin took to become a star with the Jays.

Also....today is former Jays pitcher Jeff Musselman’s 58th birthday.

Jeff was a 6th round pick from the 1985 draft out of Harvard. A quick look at Baseball-Reference shows that Musselman has the second-highest career bWAR for a player drafted out of Harvard (Brent Suter is number one). . A lefty, he got into a couple of games for the Jays in 1986, he made the team out of spring training in 1987. We had a pretty good team that year, finishing 96-66, good for 2nd place. Jeff was 12-5 (the best winning percentage in the AL), with 3 saves and a 4.15 ERA out of our pen.

Surgery for a muscle tear, suffered at the end of the 1987 season, kept him out of the lineup until mid-1988. The Jays used him as a starter for the rest of that year. In 15 starts, he was 8-5 with a 3.18 ERA.

At the trade deadline of the 1989 season, the Jays traded Jeff to the Mets for Mookie Wilson. He played with the Mets for a couple of seasons, but not all that successfully. Mookie turned out to be a spark plug for the Jays, helping us win the division.

He became a player agent after his playing career ended.

Happy Birthday, Jeff. I hope it is a good one.

And Eleven Years ago yesterday

John McDonald hit the most famous home run of his career. I should have posted yesterday, but i didn’t turn on the computer.

I’m sure you remember, but McDonald’s Father had died just five days before. Two days before John had delivered the eulogy at his father’s funeral. John got to the game late. He got into the game, only because we were being blown out.

His dad told him “I want you to hit your next home run for me. And I want you to cross home plate and I want you to point to me”.

McDonald hit only 28 home runs in his 16-year career. That he hit one in that at-bat was incredible.