BOSTON -- Catcher J.P. Arencibia is back about a week ahead of schedule, the fracture in his right hand healed.
"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.
Farrell wants Lawrie to ease his way back
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays don't want Brett Lawrie to try to make September count for August, too.
The third baseman was back atop the lineup on Friday night at Fenway Park, making his first appearance since Aug. 3. Out with a strained left oblique, Lawrie was activated after three rehab games, including a 3-for-4 performance with a triple in a Class A Midwest League playoff game with Lansing on Thursday.
Lawrie's always at his highest gear, but with the Blue Jays in last place and the lost time already in the past, he and manager John Farrell had a chat on Friday about picking the right spots to go all out.
"The basic theme of the conversation was, 'Don't think you have to make up for the previous month tonight,'" Farrell said. "He understands that. I'm not going to say you're going to see a different player out there -- we don't want to see a different player -- but I think he's understood [that with] the intensity that he plays with, there might be spots where he can let the game come to him a little bit more."
Lawrie's hitting .282 with nine home runs, 40 RBIs and 13 steals in 100 games, with a .326 on-base percentage and .416 slugging percentage. His return on Friday, accompanied by J.P. Arencibia's, made it "a good day" for Farrell.
"It's been a while," Farrell said. "It's just exciting to get guys that we've come accustomed to in our uniform back in our lineup tonight. So today's a good day."