Arencibia is back for his second stint with the Rangers after hitting .279/.320/.542 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in Triple-A. With a logjam behind the plate -- the Rangers now have four catchers on the active roster -- the plan is for Arencibia to receive the majority of his playing time at first base. He ran through infield drills at the position during the club's workout at Rogers Centre on Thursday, receiving instruction from manager Ron Washington.
The 28-year-old Arencibia broke camp with the Rangers but was optioned to Triple-A in mid-May after hitting .133 with a .182 on-base percentage over 20 games and 66 plate appearances.
"I think with J.P., he went down and the biggest thing is he got his confidence back," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "It had taken its toll, in my opinion, some of the struggles. He was playing inconsistently. He went down ... and did some damage.
"Hopefully we will get a little power out of him here."
The Rangers signed Arencibia, a career .208/.255/.400 hitter, in the offseason after he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays following four seasons with the club. But Texas didn't see the power Daniels spoke of until Arencibia -- who hit 62 homers from 2011-13, fifth most among big league catchers -- went down to the Minors.
Arencibia believes his struggles were tied to the mental side of the game, a hurdle he believes he cleared by reverting back to his old mindset. Putting too much pressure on himself to perform affected his play, he said, and he acknowledged that a demotion to the Minors was needed in order to get back on track.
"Go back to what works for me and being myself," Arencibia said of the adjustments he made. "Not trying to kind of appease the stats and all the statistics, and doing things that may work for somebody else or losing my aggressiveness. Going back to what makes me J.P. Sometimes in this game it takes that to figure yourself back out. I think sometimes you search for so much that you become so far away from what you really are. I had to go back to the drawing board and say, 'Why was I successful? What gifts was I given that I'm not using and utilizing?'
"There were physical adjustments and things that were made, but I think it was more the mentality of getting back to myself and not worrying if I take a bad swing or strikeout or don't get the job done. At the beginning, I scuffled a little bit, but I think it was a necessary move to where I'm at today, to where I'm a lot better today because of it, so I'm thankful. Obviously, no one wants to get sent down, but I think it was good for me."
Washington feels Arencibia's woes were tied to sporadic playing time, and that more consistent at-bats should unleash some of his pop.
"It gives us a bat we can put in that lineup to help, a dangerous bat, a bat that can make a difference," Washington said. "The first-base part of it is going to be ongoing. We're going to work with him and we certainly will get him better. If he wants to work we'll get him better. But the thing is we need his bat. We just want him to come up here and swing the bat and it doesn't all have to be out of the ballpark. We just want him to give us some production."
Soto, meanwhile, will be behind the plate for Yu Darvish's start Friday and split catching duties with Robinson Chirinos, Washington said.
"Wash has the ability to mix and match as he sees fit, but those guys have kind of earned it," Daniels said of the catching situation. "Robbie certainly earned it and Geo was our starter at the outset."
Soto has yet to play in the Majors this season following right knee surgery in March. After hitting .245/.328/.466 for Texas in 2013, Soto went 7-for-35 (.200) with two doubles, three walks and 13 strikeouts in 11 games between Round Rock and Double-A Frisco.
The Rangers also have catcher Chris Gimenez on the roster, but he appears to be the odd-man out for now.