Offseason Surgery Helps Arencibia See The Light
TORONTO—When hitters are going well, they often talk about seeing the ball well. Catcher J.P. Arencibia obviously has had a good look at it this year with Triple-A Las Vegas.
And in Arencibia's case he really is seeing the ball better than he did last season—especially in night games.
Arencibia, a first-round draft choice from Tennessee in 2007, had offseason laser surgery to improve an astigmatism problem that particularly affected his vision at night.
"I went from 20-50 (vision) with a really bad astigmatism to 20-15 and the astigmatism pretty much nonexistent," he said.
Arencibia, 24, says the difference in his vision after the surgery is huge. After a disappointing 2009, when he batted .236/.284/.444 with 21 homers, the organization's top catching prospect was batting .303/.360/.639 with 31 home runs and 79 RBIs this season.
"Last year at night, the ball kind of looked like a cue ball to me.," he said. "But I'm able to see spin now and the seams on the ball, and it makes a big difference."
Arencibia particularly heated up in June, batting. .400/.448/.842 with 10 homers, and kept it up in July with a .290/.347/.682 mark and 12 homers.
"You always imagine yourself doing well, but this has been unbelievable," he said.
"He's amazing right now," Las Vegas manager Dan Rohn said. "I've never had a guy that hot for that long. It's pretty fun to watch, actually."
Arencibia still has room to improve behind the plate. He was 16-for-70 (23 percent) in throwing out basestealers and had yielded 12 passed balls.
"Everything you'd want a guy to do, he's done," assistant general manager Tony LaCava said. "His defense is improving all the time. It's something he's been working hard on. He's out there every day working on his exchanges. He's calling a good game, The pitchers at Vegas love to throw to him."
Arencibia continued his hot hitting after getting called up to the big leagues. In his major league debut, he went 4-for-5 with a double and two home runs. The first home run came against Rays righthander James Shields, on the first big league pitch Arencibia saw.
• Outfielder Travis Snider (wrist) returned to the Blue Jays lineup from the disabled list in late July and homered in his fifth game back.
• Lefthander Marc Rzepczynski, called up to the big leagues at the beginning of July, returned to Las Vegas three weeks later. He went 0-1, 7.15 in four appearances, including two starts, with Toronto.