Edwin Encarnacion providing mentorship and guidance to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Georges
8 days ago
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has had a slow start to the year — his OPS is .715 entering Thursday — but he continues to practice good habits thanks to a former Blue Jays slugger. 16-year veteran Edwin Encarnacion is a special assistant to baseball operations, a position he’s held since the beginning of last season. The Blue Jays hope that his continued relationship with players like Guerrero will only help the team moving forward.
Entering into his 6th season, it’s fair to say that Guerrero has left Blue Jays fans wanting more throughout his career. After an insanely productive 2021 season (1.002 OPS), which saw him finish 2nd in MVP voting, he has come back down to earth with back-to-back, less-than-spectacular seasons (.819 OPS, .789 OPS). The team as a whole has also been largely disappointing, showing that they are good enough to make the postseason yet quickly bowing out in each of the past two playoff series. Could Guerrero be pressing a bit too much at the plate? After showing he was the club’s best hitter in 2021, he may feel the pressure of leading the team all by himself.
“You’re gonna feel it, especially when you know you’re the guy,” Encarnacion said. “That’s when you got to think about it and take pressure out and control what you can control. Sometimes you [direct] your attention to things you can’t control and that’s why I’m here — to talk to him about that. Because it happened to me before.”
There may not be a better person to help navigate the pressures of being a top power hitter than Encarnacion. Having both grown up in the Dominican Republic, the former Blue Jays DH – who made the ‘Edwing’ home run celebration famous – has been around Guerrero since he was a kid. He knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity as well. He was traded from Cincinnati in an unloading of salary, only to be put on waivers and non-tendered by the Blue Jays and Oakland A’s. When he finally carved out a key role in Toronto, he was all of a sudden being relied upon as a key offensive contributor.
“Eddie, you look at his career and where he ended and how he got there. I think sharing those insights with guys is really cool,” Manager John Schneider said. “And I think Vlad really respects him, one on one as a player. And there’s a lot of similarities there between the two of them.”
Having a mentor like Encarnacion to be around and learn from every day should only help the Montreal-born Guerrero move forward. The talent is unquestionably there, but fighting through adversity and struggles will always be something that every player has to deal with.

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