One of them is flamboyant and boisterous; the other one is discreet and introverted. One hails from Alabama (via nearby Pensacola) and was a standout All-American with the Auburn Tigers. The other moved to Puerto Rico at age 14 from his childhood home in the Dominican Republic, which at the time did not have the impressive farm systems we know today, to pursue his dream of playing major league baseball.
Donaldson would go on to have a standout career that saw him dealt from the Oakland Athletics to the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2014 season, a year before he was crowned American League MVP. And much like his personality, Encarnación flew mostly under the radar with the Cincinnati Reds, right up until he was picked off waivers by the Blue Jays in 2010 and went on to establish himself as one of the best and most consistent power hitters in the game.
When Donaldson arrived in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse, he came armed with the Athletics way, reaching across the proverbial Latino players’ aisle in trying to establish a winning clubhouse culture that he believes in to this day. Encarnación was skeptical at first, but eventually grew to trust and believe in the good intentions of that brash, quirky kid.
“When I came in to Toronto you had Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Navi [Dioner Navarro] and Edwin, a pretty big Latin culture. I always want to talk to everybody, so I made it a point that I was trying to communicate with everybody, so I let them know,” said Donaldson, laughing.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap
“I played in the Dominican and I know what it feels like to be part of a smaller group,” he said. “So I made it a point to let them know I was interested in them and wanted to show that I am here to help you guys win. So we started building a relationship. And yes, some people wonder how, but some of my best friends have been more of the quiet type.”
“When I first met him in Toronto, you could tell right away what kind of guy he is. Yes, we are completely different. But that doesn’t matter; everyone has their own way. He does things his way and I do things my way, but that didn’t stop us from becoming good friends,” Encarnación said. “It’s all based on respect towards each other. That’s the main thing between us. The respect and trust we have developed in each other. He trusts and believes in me and I trust and believe in him. We have a close relationship on and off the field.”
Alongside José Bautista, they became not only good friends, but one of the best power-hitting trios in baseball, combining for 221 home runs between them in 2015 and 2016. That Blue Jays team would go on to make back-to-back American League Championship Series in those two seasons, winning the AL East the first year and earning a wild card in the second while making the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 1992 and 1993.nfl nike jerseys cheap china
That means both Donaldson and Encarnación have some unfinished business in October, having gotten to the ALCS but no further than that. And while neither would openly admit it, there is a chip on both of their shoulders to show the Blue Jays what they could have accomplished with some more time together.
Encarnación has always taken the high road in his comments following his departure as a free agent from Toronto, but it is unclear how hard the Blue Jays tried to re-sign him before he decided to head to Cleveland in the winter of 2015.
Donaldson’s departure from Toronto was messy, with plenty of reports about the mishandling of his most recent calf injury and contract negotiations. The 32-year-old had been limited to just 36 games for Toronto, and no one knew when or if he’d play again in 2018.