TORONTO -- While J.P. Arencibia continues to receive his fair share of criticism, Sal Fasano, the Blue Jays' roving catching instructor, has seen improvement in the young catcher.
"I'm pleased with the progression of what he's doing, and sometimes we have to remember he's still young and he's still learning the craft," said Fasano. "I've seen a big improvement in his receiving, his blocking.
"I've been happy with his preparation, how much work he's [doing] in the video room trying to understand the league. Now, he's got that experience, which you can't teach. He's starting to see the league, he's starting to understand his pitchers, and that's always that hardest thing about that position -- because it's a selfless position. You have to learn what everybody wants. ... When you have trust [from your pitchers], they have a better chance to locate your pitches. And that's kind of what we're all asking for ... put the work in, prepare, and when you're ready, guys will start to trust you."
That trust is most noticeable when it comes to Mark Buehrle, who's been the club's most consistent starter since a tough stretch to begin the year. A lot of that comes from Arencibia's game calling, which has been in tune with the veteran left-hander recently.
Although the pitcher generally gets most of that credit, Arencibia's work hasn't gone unnoticed by the pitching staff.
"J.P. and I are working well together," said Buehrle, following Friday's outing in which he picked up his 11th victory. "Maybe the first couple of starts, I don't want to say we weren't on the same page, but I think he understands how I throw better now. He's mixing it up. I haven't shaken him off one time this year."
While Fasano is pleased with the 27-year-old, there are still a few areas that could use improvement. Some of the things that Arencibia needs to work on most are throwing out baserunners and to stop throwing from his knees.
Arencibia has nabbed just 18 of 71 would-be basestealers entering Sunday, which currently ranks somewhere in the lower tier for Major League backstops.
"I would like to see him using his athletic ability more often," said Fasano. "... I just want him to use it more. I think [it's important] to get him off of throwing from his knees, and maybe get up and use his athleticism to get his body rotated so he can make a good throw to second base.
"I've seen only one or two guys that can throw better from [their] knees than they do standing. Benito Santiago was the only one I ever saw that was great from his knees."
After throwing out a runner to end Saturday's game, Arencibia said that he typically throws from his knees to save time. But Fasano believes that's a flawed philosophy.
"Most of the time, it's about a tenth of a second slower from your knees than it is standing," said Fasano. "So if you anticipate well [and] you get your feet moving, you can actually make up a lot of ground."
McGowan sets sights on rotation spot in 2014
TORONTO -- Dustin McGowan returned to the Blue Jays' bullpen for Sunday's afternoon matinee with the Royals. But he's also hoping that he won't be spending a whole lot of time there.
McGowan has been used as one of the club's setup men when healthy, typically pitching in the seventh or eighth inning. But he's eyeing a return to the starting rotation next season.
"I think I'm going to try to start next year," said McGowan. "I'm going to try it, just to see how I feel. There's no harm in trying."
Although the discussion between him and the club has been preliminary, with nothing decided on yet, the 31-year-old will prepare himself to be a part of the rotation.
"I'll train in that direction," McGowan said. "It's never going to hurt to train for that. If it doesn't work out, at least it's easier to go from being a starter to reliever than the opposite. So I'd rather train that way."
If it works out that way, it cap off the Savannah, Ga., native's return. McGowan has made 60 starts in the Majors during his injury-plagued career -- including a high of 27 starts in 2007.
During that season, he took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Rockies, and ended up 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 144 strikeouts over 169 2/3 innings.
Whether McGowan enters 2014 as a starter or not, the right-hander is just happy to be healthy again after a month-long stint on the disabled list with a right oblique injury.
"I feel real good about [entering the offseason fully healthy]," said McGowan. "I think it's important just to finish this year strong and healthy, and have a good training offseason, and come back in the best shape I can be in."
Delabar back after dealing with shoulder inflammation
TORONTO -- Steve Delabar rejoined the Blue Jays on Sunday for their finale against the Royals. But even after dealing with right shoulder inflammation for the past month, the All-Star reliever is not questioning his weighted-ball program.
"No, not at all. No," said Delabar.
The 30-year-old, who has been using the program since 2010, simulates throwing with a weighted-ball without releasing it. He credits it with being a major factor in his being able to return to professional baseball after fracturing his right elbow in 2009.
"The strength was there, and even when I was still pitching [with a sore shoulder], I could pitch," Delabar said. "It was just ... that inflammation there ... just wouldn't go away. It just needed a few more days than I was getting. So that was the idea to shut me down for a little bit and get me going again."
Delabar has thrown 49 2/3 innings so far this year heading into Sunday, well on pace to surpass last season's career-high of 66 innings. But he refused to say the injury was a result of fatigue.
The Fort Knox, Ky., native first felt something after the Canada Day game, where he struck out the side in a perfect inning of work.
"That's when I really noticed something different," said Delabar. "I just kept pitching, because everything was fine going up to the All-Star Game and a little bit after there. ... Then, it was just one of those [things] where I needed a little bit more rest than I got."
Although the inflammation in his throwing shoulder caused him to miss almost a month of the season, the right-hander is hoping to learn from it and avoid a similar flareup in the future.
"Every little thing that you do, every little bump that you hit, you hope to avoid that bump next time," said Delabar. "I'm looking forward to getting my grand plan together and staying completely healthy."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.