Arencibia producing at top of Blue Jays' order
TORONTO -- Early this season, J.P Arencibia mentioned to manager John Gibbons that he'd love to hit up higher in the order than he has in the past. Add that to a list of hefty responsibilities behind the plate, and the pressure might seem great.
In Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the White Sox, Arencibia connected for his club-leading fifth home run of the season, and caught Josh Johnson's best start of the Blue Jays' short run. He was 3-for-8 in the current homestand entering Wednesday's game, with two home runs and two RBIs.
"He's playing great, he really is. [On] both sides of the ball, he's definitely been one of the bright spots," Gibbons said. "J.P knows he's good, and that's most of the battle right there." .
The past, or the better part of his four years in the Majors, Arencibia has been in the bottom half of the order for more than 630 of over 800 at-bats.
When asked, Arencibia knows exactly how many games he's batted in the coveted third spot in the order, and two of those three games have been in the Blue Jays' current series against the White Sox on home turf.
"In the big leagues, it's cool because it's obviously usually the guys who are the best hitters," Arencibia said of Gibbons' decision to put him down as the No. 3. "For me, it's a comfortable feeling because it says this guy has faith in you, or what you could be."
Arencibia is tied with Baltimore's Matt Wieters for the most home runs (45) by a catcher in the Majors since 2011. He's also just five shy of surpassing Pat Borders for third on the all-time Blue Jays' list for the same accomplishment by a catcher.
Arencibia's explosive offensive production for Toronto has come even with the addition of new pitchers to learn in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and ones to re-familiarize himself with in Brandon Morrow and Wednesday's starter, J.A Happ.
"When I go out there, part of it is knowing that the pitcher has that one opportunity," Arencibia said. "So if I'm carrying my at-bat and not focused on that guy, then I'm not doing him justice or the team justice."
It's visible how easily Arencibia carries around his confidence as he walks down the tunnel under the Rogers Centre seats to the clubhouse. Even when he's feeling good, it's not about the hits or the streaks; it's about what's best for the bigger picture. It's a team-first mentality that Arencibia preaches in his play.
"I'd rather go 0-for-5 with five strikeouts and help the team win, do what i need to do to keep them off the board. that's kind of the way I'm built," Arencibia said, holding a bat over his shoulder. "Yesterday going 2-for-4, you have a good day at the plate, but it doesn't make a big difference because we didn't win that game."
"That's the way I've always been built, and I think that's how you have to approach the game."