Arencibia looks to break out of June slump

Arencibia looks to break out of June slump

Arencibia looks to break out of June slump

ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays are hopeful that J.P. Arencibia could be on the verge of breaking out of a slump after he homered during Friday night's 8-0 victory over the Rangers.

Arencibia entered that game mired in a 3-for-45 stretch, which brought his average down to .211. He's a notoriously streaky hitter, though, and it's possible the fourth-inning solo homer will spark another run of success.

That would be welcome news for a team that is looking to lengthen out its lineup with better overall production in an attempt to get back to .500 before the All-Star Break.

"Hopefully it gets him going. He's overdue," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But he lined out to right with a good swing and then the home run.

"It just adds another big-time threat in there, and he can hit. He's going to have a good career, he's going to hit a lot of home runs. We just want to not be strictly known as a home run hitter but be a good hitter and he's fully capable of that."

Arencibia is at his best when he is driving balls up the middle and to the gap in right-center field. He runs into a bit of trouble when he attempts to pull every pitch and Gibbons thinks that might have been part of his recent struggles at the plate.

The 27-year-old Arencibia entered play on Saturday with just a .233 on-base percentage in 61 games this season. He does rank second in the Major Leagues among catchers with 13 homers, which trails only Atlanta's Evan Gattis.

Eight of those homers came in April, and if Arencibia gets back to his approach from earlier this year, Gibbons believes he can have that type of success again.

"When you get into some of those smaller ballparks, that's naturally the way it is," Gibbons said of attempting to pull everything. "But you're always a better hitter when you go gap to gap. You can still pull from that approach but what it does is allow you to stay on the ball for the offspeed stuff as well."

For his part, Arencibia isn't overly concerned about the recent struggles. His primary responsibility is handling the pitching staff, and that's most of his focus.

Toronto's pitchers appeared to have turned a corner of late. The bullpen has consistently been one of the best in baseball this year, while the starters are beginning to come around and entered play against Texas having thrown at least seven innings in three consecutive games for the first time all year.

Those are the numbers Arencibia is worried about the most.

"You try to stay confident in your abilities," Arencibia said. "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."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.