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Arencibia unhappy with Blue Jays analysts

Catcher calls out former big leaguers Zaun and Hayhurst on Toronto radio show

TORONTO -- J.P. Arencibia isn't backing down from his outspoken comments about a pair of Blue Jays' analysts who he feels have been unnecessarily negative about his play and that of his teammates this season.

Toronto's catcher expressed his displeasure with broadcasters Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst during a Thursday morning radio interview on Sportsnet the Fan590. Arencibia touched on a variety of topics, ranging from the broadcasters' playing careers to alluding to Zaun's name being listed in the Mitchell Report, to their current work in the media covering the Blue Jays on various programs.

Arencibia addressed his comments prior to the Blue Jays' game against the Tigers on Thursday night and made it clear that he didn't have any second thoughts about what was previously said.

"I said what I felt and I don't regret anything," Arencibia said. "I feel like myself and my teammates feel the same way.

"I think we're making too much of a story about this now. I said what I said and I stand by it. Part of your guys' job is to be critical, you're not going to talk about every good thing. You're not going to talk about this guy running the ball out hard ... Obviously, controversy and negativity is sometimes part of the job and I think that was my point, and I felt like I said what I needed to say."

The outspoken interview didn't exactly come as a total shock because Arencibia tweeted late Wednesday night that he planned to share his thoughts regarding Zaun and Hayhurst during his scheduled timeslot the following morning.

Arencibia started off the radio segment by answering questions about his charity work and the Blue Jays' victory on Canada Day before eventually making good on his promise. The first person he discussed was Zaun, whose name appeared in the 2007 Mitchell Report which investigated the reported use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

"One, not a lot of us, including myself, respect a person who used performance-enhancing drugs and was able to stick around as a below-average player in the Major Leagues," Arencibia said. "I've worked my entire career, I've worked hard. I've never done anything, I never put anything in my body and I go out there and bust my butt every day -- it's not an easy game."

Arencibia went on to talk about how he was teammates with Hayhurst in 2009 while they were both playing for Triple-A Las Vegas. The fourth-year catcher felt he helped Hayhurst make a series of adjustments which aided the current broadcaster in reaching the big leagues that season.

It's the criticism of Arencibia's current on-field adjustments that seems to have upset the native of Miami the most. Both analysts have been outspoken this season about Arencibia's defensive play behind the plate while also going on the attack about his low on-base percentage and high percentage of strikeouts.

Arencibia entered play on Thursday night hitting .216 (61-for-283) with a .244 on-base percentage. He does lead all catchers in the Major Leagues in homers (15) and ranks seventh in RBIs (38), but also has the most strikeouts (92).

There's been an effort to change his approach through extra sessions with hitting coach Chad Mottola and countless hours in the video room, but Arencibia said the adjustments aren't as easy as both Zaun and Hayhurst are making it seem on-air to the public.

"They've played this game, and without playing this game and understanding every single day, I feel like they know more than the average person," Arencibia said. "Obviously, there are statistics out there and I know there's a lot of knowledge from watching, but if you haven't played the actual game and do what we do every day, offseason workout, away from your families the whole time ...

"My point was, 'Hey, don't forget how hard the game is.' I think sometimes we get away from that. I understand it's part of the job, but my points were my points."

Arencibia also made it clear he wasn't speaking just for himself, but also the entire Blue Jays' clubhouse. He conceded there might be a couple of exceptions, but for the most part, everyone agrees with his feelings about the two broadcasters.

A major point of contention appears to be that Zaun and Hayhurst are rarely -- if ever -- seen in the Blue Jays' clubhouse. Hayhurst did show up prior to Thursday night's game and had a private conversation with Arencibia in an attempt to clear the air.

Arencibia appeared to appreciate the gesture, but it did little to change his opinion on the recent events. He later stated during a media scrum that it was the first time he saw Hayhurst around the team and the lack of appearances is something that has resonated elsewhere as well.

"You never see either one of them, that's a fact," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hayhurst and Zaun. "To tell you where that goes, people view that as gutless. If you write things, you show up, that's the way it is. If you take your digs, you ought to at least be around.

"You don't have to be buddy-buddy, but I think that's the way that's interpreted. I know that's the way it's interpreted."

Hayhurst responded to Arencibia's comments while co-hosting "Baseball Central" on Rogers Sportsnet on Thursday morning.

"I think he has every right to feel the way he does and he had every right to voice his opinion on critics," said Hayhurst. "He's had a really rough year. ... Our job as analysts is to look at some of the negative stuff. And you look at the play that J.P. Arencibia has had this year and there's been a lot of negative things to discuss.

"I think he's struggling right now as a player. ... I think it reflects in his stats. I don't think you can survive in the big leagues and not understand that when you play bad, you're going to draw criticism. When you play good, you're going to get a lot of praise for it. That's the nature of the beast up here."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.P. Arencibia, Dirk Hayhurst, Gregg Zaun