Outlook: Goins will battle for playing time in '14

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is still exploring the possibility of making an upgrade at second base, but it appears as though the club is prepared to move forward with rookie Ryan Goins.

Goins entered camp earlier this week as the likely favorite to secure regular playing time at the position, but he will receive some competition from utility man Maicer Izturis.

There had been some talk earlier in the offseason that the Blue Jays would look to acquire another infielder, and while discussions continue to take place, it appears that's unlikely to happen before the 2014 campaign officially gets underway.

"A day ago, I was talking to a club about some trades," Anthopoulos admitted. "Right now through free agency, I'd say no. I would think it's unlikely that we add someone there, but I would say that we'll still continue to have some dialogue trade wise, see if we can bring someone else in. Our target has been more a younger guy that has upside that has a chance to be a long-term piece."

There are some serious question marks about whether Goins will be able to hit enough to justify a full-time job. That will need to be his biggest area of improvement and is one of the main reasons he volunteered to spend some time this offseason working with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.

Goins got his Major League career off to a hot start last August, but his bat eventually cooled off and he ended the year hitting .252 with a .609 OPS in 34 games. The 26-year-old is a career .273 hitter with a .706 OPS over the course of five seasons in the Blue Jays' Minor League system.

The skepticism about his bat will continue to linger until Goins proves otherwise, but the one thing the club doesn't have any concerns about is his glove.

"I love the defense," Anthopoulos said. "He's as good defensively, I believe, as we've had here since Orlando Hudson was here. I think he's that good a defender. Defensively, he's Gold Glove caliber. The question will be the bat.

"Obviously, we've got some competition for him, and if he does make this team we view him right now as the nine-hole hitter. I think with Ryan, because the defense is so good, it allows him to not have to hit as much because he can help us on the other side of the ball to such a great extent. I love what he brings from a defensive standpoint."

Eight-man bullpen a possibility to begin season

Gregor Chisholm discusses the Blue Jays' bullpen

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are at least contemplating the thought of once again starting the season with an eight-man bullpen.

Toronto has a series of tough decisions to make with its starting rotation and bullpen. There's a long list of players who are out of Minor League options on their contracts, and carrying an extra reliever could be one way to help alleviate the problem.

The Blue Jays started last season with eight relievers, and that type of scenario will be considered when the club makes its final cuts at the end of March.

"If everyone is throwing the ball that well and we don't want to expose anyone to waivers or we don't want to trade someone and not get full value, we could go to an eight-man bullpen," general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters Thursday morning.

"It's not ideal, but we've definitely done it before, so we could do that. And that would be a good problem to have. I hope everybody throws the ball unbelievably well. I hate saying this, but the reality of it is, there will be some guys that don't perform. There will be some guys that get hurt. Nobody's hurt right now, knock on wood, but we have five, six weeks -- everyone has something that goes on in Spring Training. A lot of that takes care of itself by the end of camp."

Health will certainly be a factor, but if everyone gets through camp unscathed, it will be up to Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons to make the tough decision.

Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Luis Perez and Jeremy Jeffress are among those who are competing for jobs but cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without first being exposed to waivers. Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos and Brett Cecil also are out of options, but they should have guaranteed jobs heading into the regular season.

Outfielder Moises Sierra is out of options as well, and an eight-man bullpen could potentially have a direct impact on his future with the organization. Sierra is competing for the final spot on the bench, but if the Blue Jays really wanted to keep him in the fold it's also possible he could make the team over Anthony Gose as Toronto's fourth outfielder.

The Blue Jays ideally would start the season with a seven-man bullpen, but carrying an extra reliever could be at least a short-term fix. It's a lot easier to sneak a player through waivers at the start of the season when other teams have finalized their rosters and are more hesitant to make an additional move.

"It's going to be a factor," Anthopoulos said when asked if options will dictate which players make the team. "Right now we can't carry everybody. ... But based on past Spring Trainings, I don't know that anybody ever stays completely healthy or has great performances the entire way.

"The only two guys that have options are Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup, and they were such a huge part of our bullpen that I'd be extremely surprised to ever see a change with those guys. You still have to go out and perform. It's a great problem to have; I'd much rather be in that position than say we have three or four guys and we're looking to add someone in Spring Training."

Worth noting

• Blue Jays pitchers will throw live batting practice for the first time this spring on Friday morning. To date, the pitching staff has only been throwing side sessions, but that will change with the arrival of all position players for the first full-team workout day.

• Toronto will hold an intrasquad game on Tuesday afternoon. It's expected to be a short four- or five-inning game, with some of the club's younger pitchers expected to get the bulk of the workload. The Blue Jays play their first Grapefruit League game the following day with a visit to the Phillies' complex in nearby Clearwater.