John Fay writes this morning in the Enquirer what we have all noticed: Edwin Encarnacion’s defense is markedly improved.

The play that third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made in the eighth inning Wednesday night very well could have been a game-saver.

He made a diving stop on a smash by Lance Berkman, got up and threw Berkman out for the second out. It was the difference between no one on and two outs and a runner at first and one out – a very big difference in a game the Reds won 4-3.

But the play Encarnacion made in the ninth might have been a bigger sign of his progress as a fielder.

Houston’s Luke Scott hit a slow-rolling grounder that Encarnacion charged, cut in front of shortstop Alex Gonzalez to get and threw out Scott easily.

Check out these quotes from Narron:

“It’s great to see any time anyone works as hard as he has,” Narron said. “He’s put in his time.”

Encarnacion went into Thursday’s game hitting .228 with three home runs and 21 RBI. Last year, he hit .263 with six homers and 32 RBI through the first two months.

He was hitting .257 since his return from Louisville.

“He’s going to hit,” Narron said.

I’m not even going to comment on that, except to say that it’s equally likely that Narron will say something completely different about Encarnacion tomorrow.

Edwin Encarnacion is a big-time Redleg Nation favorite. We’ve been saying all along that he should be left alone. He’s young enough that he is almost guaranteed to improve in every facet, including defense. Just let the kid play, and he’s going to produce.