Texas Rangers catcher/first baseman J.P. Arencibia came up in the Toronto organization, including a two-homer game in his major league debut in 2010.
His return to the Rogers Centre over the weekend elicited a mixture of boos and a few cheers each time he stepped in the batter’s box.
To Arencibia, it meant that Blue Jay fans cared about him.
“I have a lot of great memories here and that’s definitely not going to do anything to take it away,” he said.
Arencibia’s three-run homer on Friday was a cool way to say, ‘Hello, remember me?’
Not only for Blue Jays fans, but Rangers’ fans, too. Arencibia spent almost two months in the minors working on his swing.
“I was getting paid to do a job that I wasn’t doing,” he said. “I’m a competitor and I hated that the Texas Rangers had put enough faith in me to sign me to a contract for a substantial amount and not be able to help them do anything.
“It’s nobody’s fault but myself. When I went down there I had to soul-search and realize, where am I? What do I need to do to be back and help this team?”
Arencibia, who did not play in the Rangers’ 9-6 loss on Sunday, said he found his confidence at Round Rock.
“I think last year and this year I played scared not to make a mistake,” he said. “So it was good to go down and mentally and physically kind of regroup.
“Having a clear mind and focusing pitch to pitch instead of thinking of what this person is going to do. I was playing with 10 different things in my head, and you can’t do that. At any level.”
Rangers pitcher Miles Mikolas (0-2) is not only pumped about making his first-career start at Yankees Stadium on Monday night, but the added pleasure of facing Derek Jeter in his farewell season.
Mikolas’ fourth start will be against Yankees right-hander Shane Greene (2-0).
It’s also Derek Jeter Figurine Night.
“So I’m sure it’ll be a packed house,” he said. “It’s important to remember it’s the same as every other game. You try to not get too jacked up when Jeter is in the box. You still have to make an outside fastball.”
Mikolas said he won’t “groove” a pitch to Jeter, in the wake of St. Louis Cardinal Adam Wainwright’s remarks during the All-Star Game.
Mikolas was throwing well in his last start on July 12 when the Angels struck for four runs in the sixth inning.
“I made some poor pitches in the sixth inning,” he said. “Against a team like that, especially the third time through the lineup, you’re going to pay for them. They’ve seen all four of my pitches at that point probably.”
Early in a game a pitcher can often survive a mistake. But later in a game, good hitters won’t miss them a second time.
“Once they’ve seen it, they know what that pitch is going to do and put better swings on it,” Mikolas said.
It’s cliche, but true.
Athletes coming off the bench always talk about being ready to enter the game at a moment’s notice. Even in baseball.
Daniel Robertson made it look easy when he had to replace the injured Alex Rios in the first inning on Saturday. Rios sprained his ankle on a swing, and Robertson took over with an 0-1 count.
“You prepare yourself every day in the cage. The count doesn’t matter; the count is irrelevant,” said Robertson, who collected the first of his two singles in the at-bat.
He was in right field for Rios in Sunday’s game and smacked a pair of two-run singles for a career-high four RBIs.
Rios’ right ankle was better Sunday. He’s expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday, manager Ron Washington said.
“For me to be able to step in and help the team is something Alex would have done as well,” Robertson said. “But I was also up with an opportunity trailing 4-1 late [Saturday] and I didn’t really come through.”
Robertson struck out with the bases loaded for the second out of the eighth inning in the loss.