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Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia celebrates his home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)
Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia celebrates his home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)

Blue Jays catcher Arencibia rips analysts Hayhurst and Zaun as ‘below average players’ Add to ...

Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia has responded to criticism from Toronto baseball analysts Dirk Hayhurst and Gregg Zaun, saying he and his teammates don’t respect them because they are “informing fans the wrong way.”

In an interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, Arencibia said Hayhurst and Zaun were “below-average” players who make the game sound easy.

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“It’s tough to hear people like that criticize,” he said. “I know it’s part of their job, but to sit there and inform the fans that this is wrong and this is not the way. They quickly forget how hard this game is.”

Hayhurst and Zaun have been critical of Arencibia’s play this season.

“Speaking for myself and for the team, that there’s not one person in our clubhouse that respects those guys because they’re informing the fans the wrong way,” Arencibia said. “It’s not right.”

Speaking on his daily baseball show on the The Fan, Hayhurst said Arencibia is entitled to his opinion.

“I think he has every right to feel the way that he does and he has every right to voice his opinion on critics,” Hayhurst said. “He’s had a really rough year. I think the entire Blue Jays team has had a rough year if you take a moment to consider the expectations that this team came into the season with.

“That being said, J.P. hasn’t lived up to those expectations and there has been a lot of negative topics to discuss.”

After revamping their roster in the off-season, the Jays were touted as major contenders in 2013. But they have been inconsistent and sit last in the American League East, 10 games back with a 41-43 record.

Arencibia has also had his struggles, batting .216 with 15 home runs and 38 RBIs. Defensively, he’s made three errors and allowed 33 stolen bases and 10 passed balls.

“Our job as analysts is to look at some of the negative stuff and you look at the play that J.P. Arencibia has had this year and there’s been a lot of negative things to discuss,” said Hayhurst. “I think he’s struggling right now. I think that’s a warranted comment and I think it reflects in his stats.”

Arencibia took shots a the careers of both Zaun and Hayhurst.

He suggested Zaun, a former catcher, used performance-enhancing drugs and “was able to stick around as a below-average player in the major leagues.”

Zaun spent 16 years in the big leagues, including five seasons with Toronto, batting .252 in his career.

He was mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report on the use of steroids in baseball but the accusations have never been proven and he has said in the past that he didn’t violate baseball’s drug policy.

Arencibia called Hayhurst, a former pitcher, “another guy who had below-average baseball tools.”

Hayhurst pitched just over 39 innings in his major-league career, posting a 5.72 ERA. He also spent eight seasons in the minors.

“I feel bad for fans that they have to listen to that stuff,” Arencibia said.

“Maybe they could give the fans the knowledge to understand why this play turned out the way it did or why this could have been a mistake.”

Hayhurst said major-leaguers need to have a thick skin.

“I don’t think you can survive in the big leagues and not understand that when you play bad, you’re going to draw criticism,” he said.

He added that he can handle the shots from Arencibia.

“I don’t think it’s completely fair some of the things he said, but I can take it and I’m fine with it,” said Hayhurst. “I hope that he feels better about it now and I hope that he goes on and has a more productive season.”

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