Moments after winning the second game, the Yankees were holding out hope a second player would avoid joining Encarnacion on the IL. The results of an MRI on Aaron Hicks' throwing elbow Sunday will help determine that.
In Encarnacion's case, officially, he suffered a hairline fracture, according to manager Aaron Boone.
It was in the eighth inning of the first game when Encarnacion, 36, was struck on the bottom of his right hand as he tried to get out of the way of an 87.1 mph slider that stayed up and in.
The pitch from Boston's Josh Smith caused obvious and immediate pain to Encarnacion, who quickly was evaluated on the field by Yankees head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and Boone. Even after that evaluation, though, Encarnacion took his base and remained in the game.
It's the second time in his career that Encarnacion has had this kind of injury. He also suffered a fractured wrist in 2009, when he missed about two months while playing for the Cincinnati Reds.
"The pain I had [Saturday] was worse than what I had before," Encarnacion said.
It wasn't until after the Yankees' next hitter, Gleyber Torres, grounded out that Encarnacion was taken in for initial X-rays. They came back negative, but a subsequent CT scan revealed the break.
The Yankees said Encarnacion would remain in New York next week while they travel to Baltimore and Toronto. At some point within the next seven to 10 days, he will be reevaluated, and at that time, the club will have a better idea of what his next rehab steps will be.
There's no early indication of how much time Encarnacion might miss.
"I hope no more than three weeks," Encarnacion said. "We'll see, I don't know. But I hope that.
"Maybe three, maybe four, maybe five [weeks] depending on how the rehabilitation goes."
The prognosis on Hicks is less certain at the moment, although the tone with which Boone and others spoke about his injury Saturday night sounded quite serious.
"Anything with the elbow always makes you nervous, but I'm going to stay positive until we get the final decision," Hicks said.
The center fielder was hurt in the sixth inning of Game 2, when he delivered a strong throw from his position toward third base. With Sam Travis at second base appearing to attempt a possible tag-up, Hicks caught a fly ball out and zipped a rocket back to the infield. The throw was cut off by the shortstop Torres and kept Travis at second.
Boston would fail to score in the inning despite Travis, the inning's leadoff hitter, getting into scoring position with none out.
"I was trying to make a good strong throw, and just kind of felt a little painful feeling," Hicks said.
After the throw, Hicks remained in the game until he was finally pulled for a pinch hitter in the eighth.
"I wasn't able to make the same throw and to throw the ball hard," he said. "That's when I told Stevie [Donohue] and got out of the game."
Hicks says he feels pain only when he throws, and added that he has never really had elbow issues during his career.
If Hicks were to be put on the IL, the Yankees have outfielders in Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman who can play center field. They also could call up Clint Frazier from Triple-A to boost their outfield depth.
As for Encarnacion's absence, with the 30-homer hitter now shelved, the Yankees are down three first basemen. The once-touted Greg Bird is continuing to rehab a plantar fascia issue at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Florida. Starter Luke Voit also is on the IL, awaiting word from doctors on his next steps following his diagnosis of a sports hernia earlier in the week.
Although Encarnacion served as New York's designated hitter Saturday, he had been helping play first base as injuries there have besieged the team. American League hitting leader DJ LeMahieu (.336) started there in Saturday's nightcap, going 1-for-5.
Traded to the Yankees from Seattle on June 15, Encarnacion is hitting .240 with an .864 OPS. Specifically with the Yankees, he's hitting .238 with nine homers, 27 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 36 games.
Encarnacion has been replaced on the Yankees' active roster by lefty-hitting Mike Ford, who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after making his major league debut in April.
At Triple-A, Ford has hit .303 with 23 homers, 60 RBIs and a 1.007 OPS in 79 games.
The Yankees currently have 15 players on their IL. In total, 25 Yankees players have spent time on the IL this season. If Hicks were to hit the IL, it would mark his second stint this season.
"One of the greatest strengths of this team is its ability to overcome adversity and just keep pushing forward," Tauchman said of the injuries. "Obviously [Encarnacion and Hicks] are All-Star-caliber, middle-of-the-order players for us. So I don't think it's a stretch to say that any sort of missed time with them is not great. But the thing about our team is that we just keep moving forward."
Despite the injury issues, the Yankees (71-39) are eight games up on the AL East and lead the Red Sox by 13 games. They also are one of three teams in baseball with more than 70 wins.
That the Yankees have rolled despite using a bevy of replacements hasn't surprised Aaron Judge.
"In spring training when I saw when we'd go on the road, and we have guys that are in Double-A, Triple-A and a couple of major league guys and we put up eight, nine, 10 runs," Judge said. "So once everybody got hurt and a lot of these guys that would've been in Triple-A got a chance to come up here and play, it didn't surprise me that guys would go off."
Encarnacion fractures wrist on hit by pitch
Edwin Encarnacion fractures his right wrist after getting hit by an 87 mph pitch against the Red Sox.