When Roberto Alomar trotted out to play catcher for the first time ever, it may not have made sense to most of us on Friday night. Why not have both he and Pat Gillick throw out ceremonial pitches prior to the game? But obviously the soon-to-be Hall of Fame second baseman took up a position near home plate to receive Gillick’s first pitch in order to pass the mantle of Greatest Blue Jay. Ever. to J.P. Arencibia, the 25-year-old surefire All-Everything catcher who seems destined for ultimate glory. Or at least to remind Toronto of Carlos Delgado’s early days as a power-hitting phenom who managed to swat balls over the fence with such eyeopening wow some of us were willing to overlook all those other times he swatted perfectly fine oxygen as if his 36-ounce Slugger was meant to be an oscillating device.
On Opening Day, Arencibia whacked the Jays’ first home run of the season to centerfield, plating two runs and making the most optimistic of the 47,984 in attendance think ahead to October and what might be. The kid from Miami added another dinger — this one a classic Fred McGriff-type stroke that sent the ball slicing, slicing, slicing to the opposite-field corner until it finally cleared the blue wall like a hole in one that shocked us all. Arencibia, who debuted in historic fashion on August 7 with a two-homer day, finished 3-for-4 with five RBIs while hitting last in the batting order during the Jays’ near-flawless 13-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at SkyDome (does anyone call it Rogers Centre who isn’t paid to?).
The guy can hit and if he keeps it up, and he better otherwise the *DJPATCW is going to look pretty silly, he’s going to make the Blue Jays a contender in the American League.
“Last year was about making strides; this year I’m making strides mentally,” Arencibia said after he became the sixth Jay to hit a pair of homers on Opening Day.
Let’s see how he does on Day 2.
Saturday: Jays (Kyle Drabek) host Twins (Francisco Liriano), 1 p.m. ET, Sportsnet
*The Daily J.P. Arencibia to Cooperstown Watch predicts the Miami-born Blue Jay will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2033, after a 17-plus-year career spent entirely in Toronto, except for a brief stint with his hometown Florida Marlins that goes awry when he realizes the benefit of the American League’s DH rule for guys like him and the value of the Canadian dollar that will be worth twice as much as the greenback by the quarter-century mark. He belts 440 career home runs, evoking Toronto’s latitude (44 degrees north) and tops the homer record for a catcher by roughly 50. He also becomes the first Toronto celebrity to have an entire sorority house at U of T named after him for reasons we will leave to your imagination and captures three MVP awards, two World Series rings and the hearts of more than a few aging Justin Bieber fans, and inspires a good number of fantasy geeks come to believe it’s okay to have a crush on a guy.
J.P. Arencibia 2011 Season Stats: