Sluggish Start Didn't Faze D'Arnaud
TORONTO—Travis d'Arnaud is getting used to slow starts. His average dipped to .182 after going 0-for-4 on April 18 for Triple-A Las Vegas, but he wasn't about to panic.
"I've had three seasons so far where I've started out slow," d'Arnaud said. "That definitely helped me out with this one. I wasn't really worried. I figured as long as I could relax, sooner or later they'll start falling and I'll start getting hits."
The next day he embarked on a 14-game hitting streak (21-for-60) and he has raised his hitting line to .298/.360/.534. D'Arnaud had a slow start last season at Double-A New Hampshire and went on to win the Eastern League MVP award, hitting .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers.
"I started off slow the first couple of weeks and then I had a concussion—two foul balls in a row off my mask—and then something clicked I guess and I just went off," d'Arnaud said recalling last season at New Hampshire. "I was just over-swinging. And once I realized I don't have to swing really hard to make good contact—just worry more about keeping my eye on the ball and hitting it square instead of trying to blast it all the time—it definitely helped a lot."
D'Arnaud, 23, entered this season as the top prospect in the organization.
"I think he's got a chance to be a real good catcher," said Toronto bench coach Don Wakamatsu, who also is the catching instructor and worked with d'Arnaud in spring training. "The reports have always been real good about his game calling and especially his rapport with the pitchers. The guys like throwing to him."
EL managers voted d'Arnaud the best defensive catcher in the league last year. He started working on a pregame routine with New Hampshire manager Sal Fasano.
"You learn what works for you and what you need to be 100 percent for 7 o'clock and be ready to play every day," d'Arnaud said. "I would be sure I had my receiving, blocking and throwing technique of it down so that that during the game I wouldn't have to think about it. It just comes naturally. I know I skipped a few days of it and whenever I skip it, I feel uncomfortable."
• Outfielder Travis Snider, who jammed his right wrist trying to make a diving catch at Las Vegas on April 26, returned to action on May 9.
• Outfielder Kevin Pillar, 23, a 32nd-round pick in 2011, went 6-for-6 with six RBIs for low Class A Lansing on May 12.