Revamped Blue Jays still deciding at 2B
Feb. 20, 2013
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Emilio Bonifacio could provide the best chance to score runs. Maicer Izturis might be the best option to prevent them.
Both players are switch-hitters and both want to be Toronto's starting second baseman.
They each might get their wish.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he might have to decide day by day which one is in the lineup.
"One guy might not win the job," Gibbons said. "I mean, they're both going to be on the team. ... It's probably going to come down to a feel thing. What does your gut tell you?
"And when it comes right down to it, we might not come out and say, 'Hey, this is our guy.' Maybe they'll split it and we'll just base it on matchups or what we need on a given night."
Said Izturis: "I've been in this situation in Anaheim. We both have to do our jobs and we will see where (Gibbons) puts the both of us to see what it looks like. We'll see what the manager likes."
Bonifacio, primarily an outfielder last season with Miami, brings more offense. Injuries limited him to 64 games last year but he still stole 30 bases. He swiped a career-high 40 in 2011 when he batted .296.
Izturis is better defensively and can play shortstop and third base. He hit .256 for the Angels last year, but his career fielding average at second base is .990 to Bonifacio's .960.
With his speed, Bonifacio could also be used as a pinch-runner, a pinch-hitter or even a designated hitter in place of Adam Lind, who has fared poorly against left-handed pitching with a career .220 batting average to Bonifacio's .290.
Neither was with the Blue Jays last season, when Kelly Johnson played second base before signing with Tampa Bay.
"We'll see who makes us stronger there but right now it's up for grabs," Gibbons said. "It's going to be something we want to play out."
The 32-year-old Izturis agreed in November to a $10 million, three-year contract after eight years with the Angels.
The 27-year-old Bonifacio was part of a 12-player trade with the Marlins on Nov. 19. The key figures were pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson and shortstop Jose Reyes. Bonifacio's one-year contract is worth $2.6 million.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said Izturis isn't assured the starting job, despite the multiyear deal.
"We signed him to compete for second base," Anthopoulos said. "There were no guarantees beyond that. I'm very big on being clear, never over-promising anything."
NOTES: Gibbons said RHP Brandon Morrow will start for the Blue Jays in Saturday's spring training opener against the host Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. Buehrle will face visiting Baltimore in a split-squad game Sunday in Dunedin. LHP J.A. Happ will start the other game against the Yankees in Tampa. ... RHP R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer already picked to start the Blue Jays' regular-season opener, or RHP Josh Johnson will pitch Monday against Boston's visiting split squad. ... Former Toronto RHP Paul Quantrill has been hired as a consultant to the organization. The 44-year-old Quantrill played 14 seasons in the majors, including six with the Blue Jays. The reliever was an All-Star with Toronto in 2001. He has played and coached for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.