J.P. Arencibia struggles with R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball, Blue Jays drop opener to Indians

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There’s a buzz about the new-look Blue Jays in Toronto, as evidenced by the high-energy sell-out crowd of 48,857 that packed Rogers Centre for Tuesday night’s opener against the Indians.

But what that crowd witness wasn’t very pretty.

J.P. Arencibia had a hard time with R.A. Dickey’s knuckler, allowing three passed balls as the Indians raced to a 4-1 lead before Dickey departed at the end of the sixth inning. Dickey walked four batters and surrendered five hits, and Arencibia’s mistakes ensured that those baserunners proved costly.

Cleveland was able to maintain that 4-1 lead.

The Blue Jays acquired catcher Josh Thole from the Mets in this winter’s seven-player Dickey trade but sent him to Triple-A Buffalo last week. If Arencibia doesn’t improve next time out and current backup Henry Blanco can’t handle Dickey’s signature pitch either, Thole may have to be added to the 25-man roster.

Arencibia has 41 home runs in his last 231 games, but he has never been much of a defender.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.