4/18/2013 12:05 A.M. ET
Arencibia producing at top of Blue Jays' order
By Steph Rogers / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- Early this season, J.P Arencibia mentioned to manager John Gibbons that he'd love to hit up higher in the order than he has in the past. Add that to a list of hefty responsibilities behind the plate, and the pressure might seem great.
In Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the White Sox, Arencibia connected for his club-leading fifth home run of the season, and caught Josh Johnson's best start of the Blue Jays' short run. He was 3-for-8 in the current homestand entering Wednesday's game, with two home runs and two RBIs.
"He's playing great, he really is. [On] both sides of the ball, he's definitely been one of the bright spots," Gibbons said. "J.P knows he's good, and that's most of the battle right there." .
The past, or the better part of his four years in the Majors, Arencibia has been in the bottom half of the order for more than 630 of over 800 at-bats.
When asked, Arencibia knows exactly how many games he's batted in the coveted third spot in the order, and two of those three games have been in the Blue Jays' current series against the White Sox on home turf.
"In the big leagues, it's cool because it's obviously usually the guys who are the best hitters," Arencibia said of Gibbons' decision to put him down as the No. 3. "For me, it's a comfortable feeling because it says this guy has faith in you, or what you could be."
Arencibia is tied with Baltimore's Matt Wieters for the most home runs (45) by a catcher in the Majors since 2011. He's also just five shy of surpassing Pat Borders for third on the all-time Blue Jays' list for the same accomplishment by a catcher.
Arencibia's explosive offensive production for Toronto has come even with the addition of new pitchers to learn in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and ones to re-familiarize himself with in Brandon Morrow and Wednesday's starter, J.A Happ.
"When I go out there, part of it is knowing that the pitcher has that one opportunity," Arencibia said. "So if I'm carrying my at-bat and not focused on that guy, then I'm not doing him justice or the team justice."
It's visible how easily Arencibia carries around his confidence as he walks down the tunnel under the Rogers Centre seats to the clubhouse. Even when he's feeling good, it's not about the hits or the streaks; it's about what's best for the bigger picture. It's a team-first mentality that Arencibia preaches in his play.
"I'd rather go 0-for-5 with five strikeouts and help the team win, do what i need to do to keep them off the board. that's kind of the way I'm built," Arencibia said, holding a bat over his shoulder. "Yesterday going 2-for-4, you have a good day at the plate, but it doesn't make a big difference because we didn't win that game."
"That's the way I've always been built, and I think that's how you have to approach the game."
Bautista sidelined with lingering back spasms
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista's name was still missing from the Blue Jays' lineup card on Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.
The right fielder missed his sixth game of the season, and though he's added an ear infection to his list of ailments, it's his lingering back spasms that are holding him out.
"It's happened to me the last two nights, where I leave here and I feel like I'm going to be good enough the next day to play, and the next day, it's tight again," Bautista said after the 7-0 loss. "Hopefully that doesn't happen again [Thursday]."
The two-time home run champion can't attribute any specific play or moment where things got bad, but it's not subsiding and there's no timeline for it to go away.
"You've got to wait until it calms down, take your meds, do your treatments, and that's basically all you can do," Bautista said.
With ice strapped to his back, Bautista said that even finding a good way to sleep is difficult right now. He likens the experience to an ugly bout with neck spasms in May of 2011.
Bautista has been absent from batting practice and wasn't available to pinch-hit for the second consecutive night.
"If I do anything athletic-activity related, it's just going to make it worse," he said. "It doesn't make sense to even try."
The slugger hasn't played since Sunday at Kansas City.
Gibbons sticks by decision to pinch-hit Davis
TORONTO -- With nine outs to go in Tuesday's contest against the White Sox, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons elected to pinch-hit right-hander Rajai Davis to lead off the seventh inning in place of the left-handed-hitting Colby Rasmus to face Hector Santiago.
Davis went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in Toronto's 4-3 loss, and holds a .167 average against left-handed pitching, while Rasmus had two hits in the game before taking a seat on the bench.
"To be honest with you, I didn't question it one bit," Gibbons said of his chance to get a late-inning offensive spark. "Colby struggled with some lefties at times; that's Rajai's strength ... maybe we could get him on and we have a chance to win that game."
The speedy, yet error-prone Emilio Bonifacio took over the defensive duties in center, while Davis shifted to right.
"I actually would have expected [the media] might have asked why [I] didn't pinch-hit Rajai, if we hadn't," Gibbons said.
A ninth-inning double by Dayan Viciedo over the head of Bonifacio broke a 3-3 tie, and begged to question the Toronto manager's decision to potentially trade defensive prowess for a chance to get on base with Davis.
"I don't know if there's that much of a difference in center field with Bonifacio and Rasmus," Gibbons said. "Teams do it all the time; you play for the win."
The 27-year-old Bonifacio has racked up four errors through 15 games this season, one shy of his total for all of 2012 with the Miami Marlins. On the other hand, Rasmus has been a pillar in center for the Blue Jays, consistently warding off long threats to the score on the warning track.
"Do you think there's a bigger difference in the two hitters or the defensive replacement? I didn't think there was," Gibbons said.
Davis swapped places with Bonifacio in the starting lineup for Wednesday's contest, with Davis taking the leadoff spot and filling in for Jose Bautista in right field.
Steph Rogers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.