Encarnacion touches em all away from park too

* The Lavery brothers, 17-year-old Errict (in red) and 13-year-old Alex, formed a relationship Edwin Encarnacion as condo neighbours in 2012. Last April against the Yankees, the boys threw out first pitches on Encarnacion's bobblehead day. ....

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By Bob Elliott

This month he’s snapped fans out of their seats at Rogers Centre the way Jose Bautista, Carlos Delgado, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and George Bell have in the past.

He’s caused reserved fans to scream while watching majestic drives land in the second tank in left.

He’s had husbands ask wives “ah, is there any chance you can move away from the TV, I can’t miss HIS at-bat.”

And with his most remarkable month in the books, he also gently touched some hearts after Sunday’s game.

After the 12-2 win over the Kansas City Royals Saturday afternoon, Encarnacion’s month on the diamond was complete -- 16 homers (averaging over 416 feet), tying Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for the most homers ever in May by an American League player, 33 RBIs and 21 wins in 30 games.

After the series finale, he headed to his downtown condo and up a few flights for a surprise visit to see his pals Errict, and Alex Lavery.

Like a lot of teenagers, they’re ball fans. But Errict, 17 and Alex, 13, have been Edwin Encarnacion fans since he took over for Scott Rolen at third base in August of 2009.

“Back then, there was a lot of negativity towards Edwin,” said Sean Lavery, the boys’ father. “Fans would say ‘this guy didn’t do this, he doesn’t do that.' The boys gravitated towards Edwin.”

The relationship didn’t fully develop until the 2012 season. When Lavery put the boys to bed, they’d look out the window of their downtown condo onto the terrace of Encarnacion’s condo.

Encarnacion signed a three-year, $27 million US contract extension on July 12 and two days later he hit two homers and drove in three as the Jays beat the Cleveland Indians 11-9 on a Saturday afternoon. Lavery looked over the railing (“we knew who he was, but I wasn’t sure how to approach him,”) and congratulated Encarnacion on both his day and his extension.

“I’ll come up and say hi to your boys some night,” Encarnacion said after saying thanks.

And a couple of weeks later, Encarnacion looked up and saw the Lavery boys getting ready to hit the sack. Sure enough, five minutes later there was a knock on the door. Encarnacion stayed for 20 minutes.

He told the boys ‘if ever you need tickets, let me know.”

Lavery remembers “Edwin coming up a few times for visits and they’d go to games once a month.”

“Errict is a warrior, he has a calmness, Alex sometimes needs more encouragement. Both their dad and mom are proud of them,” said Lavery, whose grandma traced her family’s roots to William The Conqueror invading England from Norway in 1066. So Errict isn’t a cool name out of a baby book. Errict has the spelling -- and the heart -- of a Viking.

Encarnacion was in a different building last year and still provided the boys with tickets. The highlight of the year came when the slugger was Lavery boys2asked by Holly Gentemann of the Jays' front office who should throw out the first pitch on Encarnacion’s bobblehead day last April against the New York Yankees. Encarnacion chose Errict and Alex.

Both threw strikes, Errict to Edwin and Alex to Jose Bautista.

They threw from their wheelchairs.

Errict and Alex have muscular dystrophy. They also both have “infectious smiles,” according to Lavery and Encarnacion.

Both are independent, taking the GO train in from mom Jennifer’s place in Hamilton (Aldershot to “next stop Union Station, next stop Union”) every other weekend.

Lavery is a pastry chef at Baker Street in Etobicoke. He can tell a cream puff from the real deal.

“Edwin is so respectful to his mother and father when they are in town visiting,” said Lavery, “He turns his music off at 11 o’clock like a good tenant should.

“I don’t like to bother him like some crazy fan. I am trying to create as many memories for my sons. And Edwin has been very good to both of them.”

It was a heck of a month thanks to Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Anthony Gose, Casey Janssen, Bautista and Encarnacion. The two-homer game last Thursday against the Royals was his fifth multiple-homer game of the month, tying Harmon Killebrew (May 1959) and Albert Belle (September 1995) for most multi-homer games in a month.

After closing May, Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in a 4-0 win over the Royals as the Jays started June on the right foot. He visited the boys, brought some swag from the game and then signed the jersey that was hanging in their room, writing ‘wishing you many blessings - God is with you always.’”

Once, Lavery went to casa Encarnacion asking him to autograph a Jays jersey so that Jeremy Detmer, 21, could give it to his younger brother, Brett Detmer, who -- like the boys -- has muscular dystrophy.

Encarnacion asked if he needed the jersey signed that moment. Lavery said no.

“Why not leave it here, I’ll take it the to park, get everyone to sign,” Encarnacion said.

And so that’s why there was a young man in Lincoln, Neb. with a jersey signed by all the Blue Jays, rooting for the Blue Jays.

As Tom Cheek would have said, Edwin “can touch ‘em all.”


Another Canuck: Ellen Harrigan, director of baseball administration, for Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti grew up in Agincourt before working for the Jays and serving as GM in St. Catharines. Harrigan was excited that the Dodgers had their first Canadian since Montreal’s Russell Martin when London outfielder Jamie Romak was promoted this week.

Harrigan asked Colletti if she could expect to hear the Canadian anthem before games at Dodger Stadium and whether she would now be required to make road trips ... in case Romak needed an American translator.

Former London Major Brandon Steele, now coaching at Tuscumlum College, coached Romak with the London Badgers minor midgets. Romak was coming off a broken elbow from the year before so all he did was DH. An average runner, Romak had a strong build and swung the bat hard, so Dorchester’s Dan Mendham of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau had him fill out a card. And in 2003, the Atlanta Braves made Romak the top high school selected in Canada from coach Mike Lumley’s Badgers

As a minor league free agent, Romak wanted to sign with the Jays this winter. The Jays called once, didn’t make an offer, and never called back, so he signed with L.A. And now he’s in the majors with the Dodgers after hitting 12 home runs at triple-A Albuquerque.


The 10 highest homer totals for May

Player, Team, Year, HRs Barry Bonds, Giants, 2001, 17 * Mickey Mantle, Yankees, 1956, 16 Mark McGwire, Cardinals, 1998, 16 Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 2014, 16 Cy Williams, Phillies, 1923, 15 * Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1928, 15 * Harmon Killebrew, Senators, 1959, 15 Frank Howard, Senators, 1968, 15 Mark McGwire, A’s, 1987, 15 Ken Griffey, Jr., M’s, 1994, 15

(* Denotes Hall of Famer)