PUR@DOM: Encarnacion clubs first-inning RBI double

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion is hopeful he can resume batting practice on Tuesday.

Encarnacion hasn't played since suffering a sprained right index finger during the final game of the World Baseball Classic.

The veteran slugger has been hitting off a tee in recent days but has yet to get into a game or face live hitting. He's expected to return within the next few days and is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

"I feel good, I just need to start playing again and I'm going to be all right," Encarnacion said. "I just want to make sure I'll be ready, I don't want to start playing early and get worse. I want to make sure that when I start playing, I want to be 100 percent."

Encarnacion was the Blue Jays' best hitter last season. He hit .280 with career-highs in homers (42) and RBIs (110) and games played (151).

Arencibia will get Opening Day start at catcher

ATL@TOR: Arencibia's solo homer ties the game at 5

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- J.P. Arencibia's wish was granted on Monday morning when the Blue Jays announced that he will be the starting catcher on Opening Day. He then celebrated with his best game of the spring.

Arencibia's status for the April 2 game against the Indians was somewhat in doubt because knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is scheduled to pitch. There was speculation that Dickey would receive a personal catcher this year, but manager John Gibbons confirmed that won't be the case.

The Blue Jays will start Arencibia on Opening Day instead of the duties being handed off to veteran backup Henry Blanco.

"It's huge, you grow up watching Opening Days, excited about Opening Days and then I've been able to be a part of two of them," Arencibia said. "There's no other feeling like that morning when baseball starts. It's humbling, at the beginning it was in jeopardy.

"It was one of those humbling things. But, again, it's not about me, it's about the team and fortunately enough they feel like I've done a good enough job to work with him."

On Monday, Arencibia went 3-for-4 with two homers, a double and five RBIs against the Phillies.

Blanco was the original favorite to catch Dickey because the two played together with the Mets. But Arencibia began working out with Dickey in Nashville during the season, and their relationship continued to build this spring and also while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Arencibia caught both of Dickey's starts at the Classic and showed enough that the Blue Jays are now comfortable with him handling the workload during the regular season.

That development comes as positive news for Arencibia, because he won't be forced to sit every fifth game. There's not an exact number of starts Arencibia will receive this season, but the lone obstacle has been cleared and now he'll just need occasional time off to rest.

"I want to catch as much as I can," Arencibia said. "I've always said that I want to play every day if I could. I understand that it's not the case, but I want to be up there and catching as much as anybody else in the league.

"That's something I take pride in. I feel like I'm durable back there and obviously, too, is offensively I can help this team as well."

Four players sent down in next round of cuts

NYY@TOR: Gose makes an outstanding diving catch

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' projected 25-man roster became a little more clear Monday morning when the club announced another series of cuts.

Right-hander Dave Bush, right-hander Brad Lincoln, outfielder Anthony Gose and catcher Josh Thole were all sent to Minor League camp prior to the club's afternoon game versus the Phillies.

Back-up catcher Mike Nickeas also was informed he won't make the Opening Day roster but will remain with the big league club until they finish a two-game series in Philadelphia at the end of Spring Training.

There were no real surprises in the Blue Jays' decisions but it does mean that Henry Blanco has officially won the backup catcher position. Blanco was the clear-cut favorite heading into camp but did receive some competition from Thole and, to a much lesser extent, Nickeas.

Bush had been in the mix for the long reliever role but was considered a longshot behind Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress. Bush's slim chances of making the team evaporated when he surrendered six runs in only two innings against the Red Sox on Sunday.

All four players sent to the Minors on Monday are expected to start the year at Triple-A Buffalo. The Blue Jays now have 34 players remaining in camp.