"The doctor said six to eight weeks, and the way my head works, if you say six to eight weeks, it's going to be six weeks, because that's what I'm going to push to get," said Arencibia on Friday, in the lineup as the No. 6 hitter and behind the plate in the series opener against the Red Sox. "It was probably going to be a little after this, maybe, on the timetable, but I responded so well that we were able to push it."
Arencibia hadn't played in the Majors since July 25, when a foul tip caught him on the hand and sent him to the disabled list. He played in two playoff games for Class A Dunedin on a rehab assignment, and although his hand is healed, his body isn't fully up to big league-game speed quite yet.
Manager John Farrell said that Arencibia will not be starting every game of this three-game series. Jeff Mathis returns to the backup role, and Yorvit Torrealba's playing time will be lessened.
"I've already met with Yorvit, and he's aware that he now becomes a third catcher," Farrell said. "It will definitely affect his playing time; he's understanding of it. The fact is, J.P. has returned to us sooner than we expected, which is certainly a positive. But we still have to build J.P. up, so ... right now he's not going catch every game in this series. Jeff will serve as that primary backup with Yorvit, trying to find spots for him to stay active."
Arencibia described the absence as the hardest situation he's had to deal with in his career, just by virtue of how long he had to be away and was unable to help. For the season, he's hitting .242 with 16 home runs in 81 games.
But the time off did help to keep his body fresh.
"Actually, I think my body feels the best [because of] the break," he said. "When I got hurt, all I could do is run, so I ran a lot, rode the bike. ... So my legs are fresh, my body feels good. I think other than that, it's just going out there and playing. My body's still in good playing shape. My hand feels good."
Toronto added one other hitter on Friday, catcher/infielder Yan Gomes. Gomes, 25, hit .165 in 33 big league games this season and hit .328 in 79 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.