TORONTO -- The Blue Jays began a stretch of 20 games in 20 days on Tuesday night when they hosted the Rays at Rogers Centre.
Toronto was in a somewhat unique situation during the first two weeks of the season, when the club had three off-days. There are both pros and cons to be taken with the frequent amount of rest during the early stages of the season.
"There is a plus and a minus to it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We have the ability to roll with four starters, and keep them on somewhat of a normal rotation of five days and no more than six.
"But I think for position players, when you go into a series where you have an off-day Thursday followed by an off-day Monday, it's almost like they start to get going a little bit and then there's an interruption."
That could be just one of many reasons the Blue Jays' offense has gotten off to a slow start this season. Toronto entered play on Tuesday ranked 13th in the American League with just a .231 batting average. But the one saving grace has been a .362 average with runners in scoring position.
The pitchers have kept most games close, though, and the Blue Jays remain above .500 with a 5-4 record. The pitching staff leads the American League with a .199 opponents' batting average this season.
Farrell still mulling fifth-starter options
TORONTO -- John Farrell continues to hold the cards close to his chest and won't reveal who will become the Blue Jays' No. 5 starter later this week.
Toronto's manager hasn't tipped his hand on which pitcher will get the promotion from the Minor Leagues for Saturday's start against Kansas City.
"Not yet, but that will be made well in advance of Saturday," said Farrell, who later added the decision has not yet been made internally.
The Blue Jays have only needed a fifth starter once in the first two weeks of the season. That came in Cleveland, where Joel Carreno allowed four runs in six innings of work.
Carreno will once again receive consideration for the opening, but is tentatively slated to start for Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday. If Carreno goes ahead with that outing, he will not have enough time in between starts to pitch in Toronto.
Other candidates include Drew Hutchison, Jesse Chavez and, to a much lesser extent, Brett Cecil. Left-hander Aaron Laffey also seems like an unlikely candidate because he was demoted on Friday and needs to wait a full 10 days before being recalled, unless someone on the 25-man roster goes down with an injury.
Chavez might normally have been considered a longshot, but Farrell went out of his way to praise the 28-year-old right-hander during a pregame scrum with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
"He would be a candidate, and the fact is he's done a very good job of maintaining his stuff over the course of five-plus innings in the times that he's pitched," Farrell said of Chavez, who has posted a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings with Las Vegas. "He was a starter earlier in his pro career, then got shifted to the bullpen -- and there was a realization of his stuff creeping up in terms of its power.
"But it's been very encouraging to see that he's been able to maintain that 92-95 mph that he's shown while at Vegas. He's done a very good job going to a starter's role."
Chavez has spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues, but has never started a game at that level. He is 6-10 with a 5.36 ERA in 152 2/3 career innings while striking out 116 and walking 59.
Arencibia trying to get on track at plate
TORONTO -- J.P. Arencibia continues to search for his stroke at the plate as the season nears the two-week mark.
Arencibia entered play on Tuesday night hitting just .071 (2-for-28) with one homer and five RBIs. But his manager isn't about to panic because of the slow start.
"I think there are times, he'll pull off some balls, that in Spring Training we saw him drive the ball into right-centre field with a little bit more consistency," John Farrell said. "As we've seen on numerous occasions, when you start off with zeroes to start the season, all of a sudden those numbers can get a little skewed -- because if you take the same nine-game stretch in July, it might not have nearly the visibility that it does now."
Arencibia broke a franchise record in 2011 for most home runs by a catcher, with 23. That production continued in the spring, as he tied for the team lead in homers with four. But so far, that hasn't carried over into the regular season.
The native of Miami has always been a streaky hitter -- as most power hitters are -- and Farrell believes he needs to just go back to trying to use the whole field.
"I think he has overswung the bat at times, he's gotten long, but I don't think it's because he has been focused more on one area and had it take away from another area," Farrell said when asked if the problems could be related to focusing so much on defense.
"There may be the tendency to want to do too much, at times -- whether that causes him to pull off some balls, or his swing to get a little bit long, little bit more swing and miss."