7/19/2014 1:03 A.M. ET
Ex-Jay Arencibia responds to boos with home run
By Jamie Ross and Chris Toman / MLB.com
TORONTO -- J.P. Arencibia felt right at home when he stepped to the plate at Rogers Centre as an opposing player for the first time on Friday, greeted by a chorus of boos.
The former Blue Jay, who was non-tendered by Toronto in the offseason after spending parts of four years with the club, proved as much in his third plate appearance of the night.
Arencibia smoked a first-pitch offering from Toronto starter R.A. Dickey on a line to left field for his second homer of the season to put the Rangers ahead 5-0 and silence the crowd of 38,012.
"I view it as they cared for me," Arencibia said of the boos, following the Rangers' 5-1 series-opening win. "It's definitely better as an opposing player if you get booed.
"I have a lot of great memories here and that's definitely not going to do anything to take it away. It's kind of flattering when they boo you, it gives you a little bit more fire."
After serving as Toronto's starting catcher for three seasons from 2011-13 and averaging over 20 homers a year, Arencibia returned to Toronto as Texas' starting first baseman.
In four trips to the plate, he went 1-for-3 with a season-high three RBIs and was hit by a pitch in the fifth, later coming around to score on Rougned Odor's triple.
Rangers manager Ron Washington is hoping Arencibia can build off Friday's game.
"I hope it gives him confidence. He certainly didn't lack it when he arrived here from the Minor Leagues," the skipper said. "It was nice for him to come through right there. It was big, it was huge. Getting hit by the pitch was huge, too. He had a good night back.
"It has got to continue. At least he gives us some threat in that lineup."
Arencibia, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, had an up-and-down ride with the Blue Jays, who selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
"This is where it all started for me," Arencibia said. "I have a lot of memories. This is home for me. It was home for me for a long time. I spent a lot of hours in this dome, in this city. It's different to come back but I'm excited to be back."
Arencibia became an instant fan favorite in Toronto after going 4-for-5 with two home runs in his Major League debut at Rogers Centre back in August 2010. His relationship with the fan base strengthened due to his active community work, but took a downward turn as a result of his struggling play in 2013 -- he hit .194 with a .227 on-base percentage -- and well-documented social media and radio spats with Toronto reporters.
The 28-year-old steered away from answering pregame questions about the rocky times leading up to his departure with the Blue Jays, choosing instead to focus on the positives.
"All the people that no one really knows about that make this thing go, that's what's most special for me, that when I walk through these hallways, all of them are excited for me to be back," Arencibia said. "I always wanted to treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated myself. There's a lot people I feel like I made a positive influence on, and if it's one person, I think you're doing a good job and I think I was able to do it to more than one."
Arencibia is back for his second stint with the Rangers after hitting .279/.320/.542 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in Triple-A. With a logjam behind the plate -- the Rangers now have four catchers on the active roster -- the plan is for Arencibia to receive the majority of his playing time at first base.
The Florida native broke camp with the Rangers but was optioned to Triple-A in mid-May after hitting .133 with a .182 on-base percentage over 20 games and 66 plate appearances.
Top prospect Sanchez could make debut out of bullpen
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays could be priming top prospect Aaron Sanchez for a big league promotion after the right-hander was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen at Triple-A Buffalo.
The move suggests Sanchez, the club's No. 1 ranked prospect by MLB.com, could be in line to help the Blue Jays' struggling relief corps in the second half.
"We put him in the 'pen for a reason," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "We'll get him used to it a little bit and see where it goes. We're watching the number of innings he's got this year … he might be able to help us out of the 'pen."
Sanchez, who was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire in mid-June, is 0-3 in seven appearances (six starts) with a 4.32 ERA over 33 1/3 innings since joining Buffalo.
He's experienced some control problems, having issued 57 walks over 99 1/3 innings in 21 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Gibbons said Sanchez could likely make an impact at the Major League level.
"Why not?" he said. "He's got everything he needs. More than most guys have. He's got the arm most guys don't have."
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said earlier this month that it was conceivable Sanchez could be called up to help the Blue Jays in either a starting or relief role.
Jays' Draft signings at deadline stand at 28
TORONTO -- As the Friday deadline to sign 2014 picks passed, the Blue Jays had inked 28 of their 41 selections from the First-Year Player Draft.
After their top picks did not sign in two of the previous three years (Phil Bickford in 2013 and Tyler Beede in 2011), the Blue Jays managed to lock up their 2014 first-rounders Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost with full-slot value signings earlier this month.
Hoffman, a 21-year-old right-hander, was taken ninth overall after going 3-3 with a 2.94 ERA with East Carolina this season. His assigned slot value was $3,080,800. Hoffman is currently undergoing rehab for Tommy John surgery.
Pentecost, also 21, led Kennesaw State to the NCAA Super Regionals. He topped the country in hits (113) and was No. 2 in batting average (.422). His standout season earned him the Johnny Bench Award as the top catcher in college baseball. As the 11th overall pick, his assigned slot value was $2, 888, 300. Pentecost is currently playing with the Blue Jays' Class A affiliate in Vancouver. He made his debut on Tuesday, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
The highest pick the Blue Jays were not able to sign was Cal Poly outfielder Zack Zehner (seventh round), who told the club that he would return to college as a fifth-year senior.
Mills added as long man in bullpen
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays on Friday optioned reliever Chad Jenkins to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the roster for lefty Brad Mills, who was claimed off waivers from the A's.
Mills, a fourth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, will be the long man out of the Blue Jays' bullpen, manager John Gibbons said prior to Friday's game against the Rangers.
That means Todd Redmond, who's "been pitching pretty damn good," will be moved out of the role.
"We'll give Redmond a little more work," said Gibbons. "We'll get him in some tougher situations and see what he does."
Mills made his big league debut for the Blue Jays in 2009, but he has moved around a bit in recent seasons. He was traded to the Angels in 2011 and claimed off waivers by the Rangers last season. Texas released Mills on July 18 of last season.
Mills has a career record of 4-4 with a 6.98 ERA in the Major Leagues. He signed with Milwaukee before this season and pitched to a 4-2 record and a 1.56 ERA for Triple-A Nashville. Mills was then acquired by Oakland for cash considerations in June, and he went 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA for the A's.
"He's a left-hander, a strike thrower, he can fit the long role for us," said Gibbons. "He adds some depth."
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated pitcher Deck McGuire for assignment.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.