Arencibia improving his work behind the plate
TORONTO -- While J.P. Arencibia continues to receive his fair share of criticism, Sal Fasano, the Blue Jays' roving catching instructor, has seen improvement in the young catcher.
"I'm pleased with the progression of what he's doing, and sometimes we have to remember he's still young and he's still learning the craft," said Fasano. "I've seen a big improvement in his receiving, his blocking.
"I've been happy with his preparation, how much work he's [doing] in the video room trying to understand the league. Now, he's got that experience, which you can't teach. He's starting to see the league, he's starting to understand his pitchers, and that's always that hardest thing about that position -- because it's a selfless position. You have to learn what everybody wants. ... When you have trust [from your pitchers], they have a better chance to locate your pitches. And that's kind of what we're all asking for ... put the work in, prepare, and when you're ready, guys will start to trust you."
That trust is most noticeable when it comes to Mark Buehrle, who's been the club's most consistent starter since a tough stretch to begin the year. A lot of that comes from Arencibia's game calling, which has been in tune with the veteran left-hander recently.
Although the pitcher generally gets most of that credit, Arencibia's work hasn't gone unnoticed by the pitching staff.
"J.P. and I are working well together," said Buehrle, following Friday's outing in which he picked up his 11th victory. "Maybe the first couple of starts, I don't want to say we weren't on the same page, but I think he understands how I throw better now. He's mixing it up. I haven't shaken him off one time this year."
While Fasano is pleased with the 27-year-old, there are still a few areas that could use improvement. Some of the things that Arencibia needs to work on most are throwing out baserunners and to stop throwing from his knees.
Arencibia has nabbed just 18 of 71 would-be basestealers entering Sunday, which currently ranks somewhere in the lower tier for Major League backstops.
"I would like to see him using his athletic ability more often," said Fasano. "... I just want him to use it more. I think [it's important] to get him off of throwing from his knees, and maybe get up and use his athleticism to get his body rotated so he can make a good throw to second base.
"I've seen only one or two guys that can throw better from [their] knees than they do standing. Benito Santiago was the only one I ever saw that was great from his knees."
After throwing out a runner to end Saturday's game, Arencibia said that he typically throws from his knees to save time. But Fasano believes that's a flawed philosophy.
"Most of the time, it's about a tenth of a second slower from your knees than it is standing," said Fasano. "So if you anticipate well [and] you get your feet moving, you can actually make up a lot of ground."