The Toronto Blue Jays will carry two players who could serve as super-utility types in the 2013 season, but between Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio, only one will have regular possession of the team’s vacant second base job.
According to manager John Gibbons, who spoke at the team’s State of the Franchise meeting earlier today, it’s Izturis who will have an inside track – though the final decision will ultimately come in Spring Training.
That goes in line with what GM Alex Anthopoulos said earlier in the off-season, who also stated that he prefers to go with the former Los Angeles Angels infielder instead of the Miami Marlins acquisition. Though both share the same kind of versatility that could make them very useful to the Blue Jays in 2013, the team may be leaning towards Izturis because he makes fewer outs on the field. He doesn’t strike out as much as Bonifacio does, and is more of a contact hitter who doesn’t hit an overwhelming amount of ground balls.
Bonifacio has what could be described as game-changing speed, but after watching Kelly Johnson tie a team record in strikeouts last season, the team may be looking to move towards having some low-strikeout types that can put the ball in play, and Bonifacio’s 20% career strikeout rate might hinder him in gaining a starting job in that program.
That said, it would be in the Blue Jays’ benefit to get the speedy utility man into regular at bats, and the team did not give any indication that either Izturis or Bonifacio would serve primarily off the bench if the other wins a regular gig.
It sounds like something of a time share arrangement may be coming for both switch-hitters, with Bonifacio potentially getting into the mix in the outfield should Colby Rasmus continue to struggle at the plate, particularly against lefties.
That scenario would see Melky Cabrera slot in an center field against lefties, allowing either Bonifacio to play left field. Of course, it’s also something that could come into play if Jose Bautista wants to take a breather from right field duties at any point, and the team could shift Edwin Encarnacion to first, while keeping Adam Lind on the bench.
As is the case with the types of players that Izturis and Bonifacio are, the permutations by which they could earn at-bats on this lineup are numerous, and it will be interesting to see how Gibbons configures his lineup in to get both players their share of playing time.
It’s not always going to be simple, but that’s exactly the reason for their value to the Blue Jays.