Jays' Arencibia debuts to rave reviews

J.P. Arencibia hit two home runs in his big-league debut, including the first pitch he saw — a James Shields fastball over the left field wall in the second inning.

Rookie catcher's homers usher in era of the 'new J.P.' in Toronto

Of all the things for Blue Jays fans to be chanting in the Rogers Centre, not many could say they'd expect to hear "J.P., J.P., J.P."

Toronto's catcher of the future changed that on Saturday in the team's 17-11 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

When J.P. Arencibia's name was announced in the seventh inning, the 24,168 in attendance were on their feet singing his name — seemingly wiping clear the association of the two consonants with former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi.

Knocking out two home runs in his big-league debut, including the first pitch Arencibia saw in the majors — a James Shields fastball over the left field wall in the second inning — officially started the era of the "new" J.P.

"I couldn't have dreamed of it any better," said Arencibia, who was given two tickets and the balls from his double and one of his homers. "I knew [my mom] was there, and that was huge for me. It's just been a really special day that I could have never pictured like this."

Arencibia joined an honoured list of players who homered in their opening at-bats. The last rookie Jay to do that was Junior Felix, on May 4, 1989.

"I could never have imagined this, ever," Arencibia said afterward. "I was pretty surprised because my first at-bat, I really wasn't that nervous. I was pretty even-keeled and then after that I was pretty comfortable in the box.

"But I imagined I'd have at least one strikeout in my debut, just because of the nerves."

The Toronto Blue Jays' prize rookie was called up this week to replace the injured John Buck and went 4-for-5 with the aforementioned homers along with a single and double.

Long touted as the Blue Jays' catcher of the future, Arencibia briefly emerged from the Toronto dugout after hitting his second long ball, tipping his hat to the appreciative crowd.

Arencibia had 31 home runs so far this season at triple-A in Las Vegas.

with files from the Canadian Press