A baseball player’s first game in the major leagues is something they typically never forget. That will be especially true for former Tennessee star and current Toronto Blue Jay J.P. Arencibia, who had one of the most memorable big league debuts in history.
Called up on Wednesday night following an injury to starting catcher John Buck, Arencibia was penciled into the lineup for the first time Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay. He wasted little time making a lasting impression, going 4-for-5 at the plate with two home runs, a double, a single, three runs scored and three RBIs.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Arencibia said. “It’s been a great day. It’s been fun to be a part of. (I was) speechless. It’s been a long time, and I’m just excited that it worked out this way.”
In the bottom of the second inning, Arencibia became just the 26th player in MLB history to hit a home run on the first pitch of his first big league at-bat, driving a 93 mph fastball from James Shields over the Blue Jay bullpen in left field. He saw just two pitches in his next plate appearance, which ended with him standing safely on second after a long double.
After a single in the fifth frame, Arencibia came to the plate in the sixth, needing only a triple to complete the cycle. He would do one better though, taking another first-pitch fastball and drilling it over the right-field wall for his second longball of the day. Since 1900, only three other players have hit two home runs in their Major League debut, with the feat last accomplished by Mark Quinn with the Kansas City Royals in 1999. Bert Campaneris and Bob Nieman also did it in 1964 and 1951, respectively.
Although he was retired on a fly ball in his final at-bat, Arencibia finished the game as the only player in the modern era (since 1900) with four hits and two home runs in his Major League debut. The four hits also tied the record for the most in a nine-inning debut.
“J.P. had a heck of a day today,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “One that he can go back and tell his grandkids about. I don’t know if anyone would believe it, though, unless they really saw it.”
The 21st overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2007, Arencibia spent three years at Tennessee before leaving as a two-time All-American and one of the top power hitters in program history. The Miami, Fla., native hit .330 for his career and ranks third in UT history in total bases (381), fourth in RBIs (165), tied for sixth in home runs (33), tied for sixth in doubles (48) and seventh in hits (230).
One of eight former Vols currently playing in the big leagues, Arencibia is also the fourth player from UT’s 2005 College World Series team to make it to “The Show,” joining Chase Headley (San Diego Padres), Luke Hochevar (Kansas City Royals) and Julio Borbon (Texas Rangers).
Former Vol J.P. Arencibia has memorable MLB debut
Published: Tue Aug 10, 2010