Arcia brings dash of flare, loads of power to Twins
JUN 06, 2014 1:35p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Oswaldo Arcia took a second to admire his work.
The Twins right fielder had just crushed a ball almost clear out of Target Field for his first career grand slam, and he wanted to make sure he saw the ball land more than 400 feet from home plate. As he started his home run trot, Arcia first did a little hop before continuing on his way to first base.
It's that little extra flare that Arcia brings to Minnesota's roster that has made him so exciting to watch in his brief career. While some baseball purists believe the game's unwritten rules forbid a young player like Arcia to observe his home run in that fashion -- which can sometimes be viewed as showing up the opposing pitcher -- Arcia's teammates and coaches have no problem with the way the 23-year-old Venezuela native plays the game.
"It's a kid's game. You're supposed to play with some enthusiasm. You're supposed to have fun playing it," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "There's a lot of old school stuff out there, don't show up this guy and show up that guy, but that's kind of old school. Nowadays you see a little more flamboyant baseball. There still are golden rules of baseball and what you should and shouldn't do, but still, I don't think he's trying to hurt anybody's feelings or anything. That's just the way he plays."
Arcia burst onto the scene last year for the Twins, hitting 14 homers in 97 games while also playing an all-out brand of baseball with a little flash that hadn't been seen in Minnesota's clubhouse since a kid by the name of Carlos Gomez roamed the outfield.
As it turned out, Arcia's grand slam Thursday against Milwaukee came not long before Gomez -- now a star center fielder for the Brewers -- hit a big three-run homer. Like Arcia one inning earlier, Gomez made sure to put an exclamation point on his blast by flipping his bat and clapping his hands as he ran the bases.
While some fans don't care for the flashiness of Arcia or Gomez, others find it to be rather enjoyable to watch. Gardenhire falls into that second camp.
"I like watching Arcia play. I like watching Gomez play," Gardenhire said. "Those two are pretty out there. They express themselves on a baseball field. I like watching them play. I don't mind it a bit."
There's no mistaking the impact Arcia's bat has had in Minnesota's lineup since he returned from a wrist injury late last month. In the 11 games he's played after coming off the disabled list, Arcia has eight extra-base hits, including four homers, and is slugging a whopping .711 in 45 at-bats. His on-base plus slugging (OPS) is 1.067 in those 11 games.
Arcia and fellow outfielder Josh Willingham both returned from the DL at the same time and have given Minnesota's offense a lift with their bats. Yet Arcia's energy also seems to add another element, something the Twins were lacking when he was sidelined.
"We like the energy. I think the flare is OK, but I believe after a little bit more time up here he'll tone it down," said Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe. "But it's not fake. That's one thing. You see some guys doing some fake flare, doing it just to be showoffs, then it's a little different. That's raw emotion, which in my book is different."
There's often times a fine line between confidence and cockiness among brash young players, but Arcia seems to be toeing that line perfectly. He'll show a little extra excitement on the field, especially after a big hit, but he has yet to do anything that has truly stirred the pot or caused an opposing team to take major exception.
As far as the confidence, Arcia isn't lacking in that department. One day before his grand slam Thursday, Arcia hit a three-run homer against the Brewers in Minnesota's 6-4 win. Prior to hitting the three-run blast, Arcia made a prediction to second baseman Brian Dozier.
"Before the at-bat, he told me . . . he said, 'Dozier, watch me, I promise I hit a home run tonight,'" Dozier recalls. "And sure enough, the next at-bat, he hit a home run. That's pretty impressive. When you're locked like he is right now, it's pretty cool to watch."
Arcia sprained his ankle in Thursday's loss to Milwaukee and is listed as day-to-day. The Twins are hoping they won't be without their right fielder for very long, especially considering how red-hot he's been at the plate since coming back from his previous injury.
Whenever Arcia does return to the lineup, there's no doubt he'll do so with that same youthful exuberance and raw emotion that has quickly made him a fan favorite in Twins Territory.
"He has a lot of energy. I don't mind any of that stuff, especially when you're going well," Dozier said. "It's always understood, the flash and flair and all that, it's acceptable if you have a lot of years in. I think he kind of learned that last year and it seemed to tone down a little bit. But at the same time, he's doing well. A kid like that, you've got to let him play and let him do his thing."
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