Arencibia brings All-Star hopes to Fan Cave visit
Modest Blue Jays catcher honoured to be on ballot, films upcoming video
NEW YORK -- OK, first of all, you have to get your own last name right if you want to be an All-Star.
"I don't even know my own name," J.P. Arencibia said, laughing at himself.
The Blue Jays' catcher could be forgiven for nervously mispronouncing his last name "Aren-SAY-bia" during a take while shooting an upcoming video at the MLB Fan Cave. After all, he had just played at Yankee Stadium the night before, and now he was taking the time to show up promptly at 9:45 a.m. ET on Friday.
"I've never even said 'Aren-SAY-bia' before," he said again. "I don't know where that came from."
Here are other ways to make sure Major League Baseball fans start voting for you, now that the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot, sponsored by freecreditscore.com, has just been launched and now that Blue Jays fans can start punching ballots at Rogers Centre when their team comes home on Tuesday night:
• Share the American League lead with eight home runs entering Friday night's game. Hit more home runs than any other catcher in the Majors from 2011 to now: 48 in 236 games, two more than Matt Wieters of Baltimore and five more than 2010 All-Star hero Brian McCann of the Braves.
• Lead all AL catchers entering this series at Yankee Stadium not only in homers but also in RBIs (15), extra-base hits (13), slugging percentage (.689), total bases (51) and hits (21).
• Have a head of hair that easily rivals that of Twins catcher Joe Mauer. (Hey, it's true.)
"It's an honor, obviously," Arencibia said of being on the ballot, where he was a distant finisher last year. "Everyone dreams of being an All-Star. Having the experience with the [World Baseball Classic], being around those guys who are All-Stars, those are the best of the best. You work hard in the offseason, you sacrifice a lot of things in your life to be the best player you can possibly be, so to be recognized for that is definitely an honor and exciting. We'll see what happens."
No Blue Jays catcher has ever been voted to an All-Star Game by fans.
Two of their backstops have made it to the game at all. John Buck was added as a 2010 reserve due to Victor Martinez's injury. The other was Ernie Whitt, whom Sparky Anderson chose as one of his three reserve catchers for the 1985 game. Lance Parrish was the fans' selection but needed to nurse an injury, so Carlton Fisk started instead, and Whitt saw action off the bench. Rich Gedman of Boston was the other reserve catcher.
Based on nearly a month of 2013 games, an argument can be made that catching is suddenly the deepest position in the Majors -- both leagues included. There are hard choices in both leagues. In the AL, Arencibia's competition likely will include Mauer, the Twins' five-time All-Star who was batting .351 and leading all AL catchers with 26 hits; Cleveland's Carlos Santana, who leads AL catchers with a .352 average and 1.139 OPS; and former All-Stars Wieters, A.J. Pierzynski of Texas and Alex Avila of Detroit. And one can argue that Arencibia has to be considered click-and-punch-worthy so far, although an improved club performance wouldn't hurt him.
"From top to bottom, everyone who's a catcher in the big leagues is an exceptional player already," Arencibia said. "Obviously you know it's a deep field. But again, if you put the numbers up, and you do what you need to do to be an All-Star, then you should definitely be chosen for the game.
"There are a lot of great players. Come that time, we'll see where it's at."
It must be noted that the ballot subject was brought up to him, not vice versa. Arencibia, who grew up in Miami voting every year for his favorite player, Ken Griffey Jr., seems as humble and affable as they come, in many ways. Consider what he tweeted after Toronto opened with a 5-3 loss Thursday:
"Good news is the sun will come up tomorrow and have another game to get it going!! Adversity only makes u stronger! #Blessed"
Good news is the sun will come up tomorrow and have another game to get it going!! Adversity only makes u stronger! #Blessed- jp arencibia (@jparencibia9) April 26, 2013
It probably doesn't hurt to have that kind of an optimistic cheerfulness these days, right?
"Just for life in general," Arencibia said. "I'm fortunate enough to play this game, and if losing a baseball game is the worst thing that can happen in a day, you're pretty blessed.
"That being said, you want to win. You don't like losing. I don't like losing. But this is a long season, and knowing that, it's definitely no time to panic. It's time to just make adjustments and learn from them."
Arencibia said that "home runs are nice, RBIs are nice, you just want to be in games that help the team win." They have three more games at Yankee Stadium in this series and continue to try to find their rhythm across the board, meshing so many new parts after major offseason additions.
"For the team, obviously we want to be in a different position, but again it's not how you start, it's how you finish in this game," he said. "I think, new team, newer guys, everyone's getting accustomed to their new home. For myself, I feel like I've been able to put up some good numbers, but again, for me it's about winning. So as long as what I am doing is helping the team win, then that's what I most want."
There were a number of Blue Jays fans in the vicinity of the Fan Cave on Friday. At nearby Washington Square Park, where Arencibia interviewed fans on the street for the upcoming video, two women from Toronto were sighing after meeting the catcher. They want your vote.
"He's really good looking. Very good looking," said Mannie Montelpare of Toronto. "If he got out there, more people would know about him. He'll make more money. The girls will definitely vote for him."
"He's really sweet," said Bella Joannou of Toronto. "He's young and up-and-coming."