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Edwin Encarnacion set for Yankees debut


    Seattle Mariners’ Edwin Encarnacion celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Angels during a baseball game on June 1 in Seattle.

NEW YORK >> Edwin Encarnación is set to make his New York Yankees debut, batting fifth as the designated hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game series between the top two teams in the AL East.

Acquired from Seattle in a trade late Saturday night, Encarnación joined the Yankees on Monday and began the day leading the American League with 21 home runs. He says he expected to be shipped off by the payroll-paring Mariners, but didn’t think he’d wind up in New York. When he got the news, he was surprised and excited to be sent to a first-place team.

The 36-year-old Encarnación is wearing No. 30 and hitting behind catcher Gary Sánchez, who ranked second in the AL with 20 homers. And with fellow sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge close to returning from the injured list, the Yankees are poised to soon field one of baseball’s most powerful lineups.

General manager Brian Cashman acknowledged some might have been surprised to see the Yankees add another big bat when it’s clear they’re looking to upgrade an injury-depleted pitching rotation before the July 31 trade deadline. But he says the Encarnación move won’t preclude that, and he still has more work to do.

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