He’s only 26, but even the legs of J.P. Arencibia have their limits.
With that in mind, along with looking ahead to the regular season home-opening series next week against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell has opted to rest his catcher for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
Instead, Jeff Mathis will make his first appearance behind the plate for the team that obtained him in a trade during the off-season.
It will allow Arencibia to rest up a bit after he caught the first two Toronto games of the Cleveland series -- a 16-inning epic in the season opener on Thursday followed up by another 12-inning affair on Saturday.
That’s a total of 28 innings, which is a lot of squatting so early in the season.
“That’s part of it,” Farrell said of his decision to go with Mathis, a 29-year-old who is regarded as an excellent defensive catcher. “And looking at the series upcoming.”
Not wanting to take anything away from either player, Farrell said he views the catcher’s position as essentially a two-man job over the course of a 162-game season.
“We’re going to ride J.P....but it’s a two-man position as far as I’m concerned,” Farrell said. “We’re fortunate we’ve got a very good and capable one in Mathis.”
The Blue Jays will be sending 25-year-old Joel Carreno to the mound today to make his Major League debut and try to earn the three-game sweep over the Indians.
Carreno was a call-up last season late in the season for the Blue Jays and allowed just two runs in his 11 relief appearances, holding opponents to a .200 batting average and a .254 OBP.
All of his starting roles have been at the minor league level, last season posting a 7-9 record at Double-A New Hampshire with a 3.41 ERA.
Carreno had been already sent back down to New Hampshire early on in the Blue Jays spring training camp when it became apparent he would not be breaking with the team as a reliever.
When the Blue Jays decided that Brett Cecil still required more seasoning at the minor league level, the club tabbed Carreno as it’s No. 3 starter.
“He’s been very successful at every level of the minor leagues as a starter and he was throwing the ball well in spring training,” Farrell said. “And when it was apparent that we’ve got to make a decision he was the guy that first came to mind.”
Farrell said he has no doubt that Carreno has the mental toughness to be able to handle the pressure of his first Major League start.
“He showed it in 11 appearances last year,” Farrell said. “I thought he was outstanding in terms of his overall demeanor and composure on the mound. And we expect the same today.”