ARLINGTON, TEX. - J.P. Arencibia is a glass half-full kind of guy.
Even when things get rough, Arencibia is just about the last person who will admit defeat.
Heading into Thursday night’s game against the Texas Rangers, the Jays catcher sat mired in one of the worst slumps of his career as over the course of his past 10 games he had all of three hits in 41 at-bats for a .073 average. Along the way he had struck out 18 times.
The slump has seen his average sink to .214 from .246. The past two games where he has started he has slipped to seventh in the batting order. Last night he found himself behind Maicer Izturis, who is hitting .214 with seven RBIs.
Arencibia, though, is not about to let the bad times drag him down.
He’s simply not wired that way.
He is far from pleased about the way he is hitting right now but he is not about to beat himself up about it either.
“It’s just one of those things where in baseball you have your ups and downs,” he said. “You try to stay away from your downs as much as possible but for me, obviously it’s been trying to figure out my timing and trying to get that bat consistent.
“I went good for a little bit and when we got to San Diego it kind of went back a little bit. That’s the way this game works.”
While many players who have gone through hitting slumps have dragged their slump on to the field — they are thinking of their last at-bat when out on the field and lose their concentration which results in errors, both physical and mental — the reverse is true with Arencibia.
It is because he plays such an important and integral position that instead of slumping defensively, he uses his defensive responsibilities as a support system.
“Fortunately for me, a big part of my game is behind the plate,” Arencibia said. “Being able to help the team win on the defensive side has been huge for me.
“I know that my hitting will come around. I’ve gone through tough times before and been able to come back. I started the season super hot and you’re not going to keep that pace.
“But my production as far as RBIs (30) even though I should have more, it’s pretty up there for my position. The biggest thing, though, is trying to help the team.”
He said his mental approach when things are going well and when he’s in a rut like now, is pretty much the same. He knows there is tremendous ebb and flow in the game and he knows that because of the nature of his job the most important part for him will always be his handling of the pitcher, his ability to nurse the best out of every member of the staff.
“You try to stay confident in your abilities,” he said of his mindset. “I think good or bad you try to stay as even-keeled as possible. Whatever the outcome would be, if I hit a home run or I strike out, I come into the dugout, sit down and put on my catcher’s gear right away. That’s part of the position that I think is a plus. I don’t have to stand out there in the outfield and have time to think. As soon as I put on my catcher’s gear I become somebody else.
“I have to go out there and I have to know the pitcher, win the game on the defensive side. The thing that helps a ton is being able to impact the game in a different way.”
The hardest part for Arencibia when he is in a slump is to gear back, take the less-is-more approach.
“You continue to work and the problem is sometimes you try to get it all in one at-bat,” he said. “That’s not the way that this game works.”