Tomase: Arroyo’s celebrations worth price of admission originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Forget about a flair for the dramatic. When Christian Arroyo hits a big home run, it’s straight flair.
From bat flips to mound stares to Euro steps, the Red Sox second baseman has turned the celebrations that follow his big hits into main events of their own that perfectly encapsulate this 2021 Red Sox season in their mix of exuberance, defiance, and out-of-nowhere fun.
On Wednesday night, he continued an improbable run of clutch bombs with a pinch hit grand slam that lifted the Red Sox to a 10-8 victory over the Braves. The 467-foot no-doubter was entertaining on its own, but Arroyo made it doubly so by flipping his bat dismissively in the direction of pitcher A.J. Minter before making like Manu Ginobili two-stepping into the lane as he shared a high-five with third base coach Carlos Febles.
“The “Let the Kids Play” thing was running rampant the last couple of years,” Arroyo said. “When you’re in a situation where you’re giving your team a lead or tying a ballgame late in the game, it’s just part of it. At the end of the day, we’re playing a game for a living.”
Arroyo has emerged as a clutch player this month. He has four home runs, all in June, and all four have either tied the game or given the Red Sox the lead. His three-run shot off Houston’s Brandon Bielak on June 10 forged a 7-7 tie in the fifth, his solo blast tied a game with the Blue Jays the next night in the eighth, and Wednesday’s erased a 7-6 deficit in the seventh.
What does it mean to Arroyo to be wearing this new designation as Mr. Clutch?
“It means everything, but at the end of the day, it’s all about just getting the opportunity and trying to run with it,” he said. “I’ve had some injuries and stuff, and these are the kinds of moments you live for. This is why we play the game — we play the game to win and we play the game to have fun. And when you’re doing both of them, everything’s great.”
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Arroyo clearly feels comfortable showing off his personality. He glared at the mound after taking Toronto’s Carl Edwards deep, perhaps still miffed at being hit in the hand for the fourth time this season two innings earlier. He gave Minter a similar “you’re beneath me” stare while flipping his bat towards the mound.
“It’s just part of it,” he said. “Pitchers, when they strike guys out in big situations, I am totally cool if I go up there bases juiced and I punch out in that situation and A.J. Minter goes out and fist pumps and does whatever, I am totally cool with that.”
The Euro step was a nod to his basketball playing past, though he admits it needs some work.
“I’m just trying to have fun with it. It just kind of happens,” he said. “The Euro step, I’ve been doing it. I grew up playing basketball. I’ve seen guys do some stuff rounding third. It’s one of those things you can implement and just have a little bit of fun with it.
“I will say this, it does need some work. I saw the video of it. The good thing is I play baseball for a living. I’m not trying to slam dunk in a professional basketball game. Hopefully there’s a lot more of them to come, because that means I’ll get better at it and that means I’m doing the right things and hopefully it leads to more winning.”
It also fits Arroyo’s overall approach. Eight years after being drafted in the first round by the Giants, and now on his fourth organization after flaming out as a seeming bust, he’s having the time of his life in a regular role, and he doesn’t care who knows it.
“I’m going to keep having fun,” he said. “My motto has kind of become, ‘I’m just livin’,’ and that’s it. Living in the moment and just playing.”