02/16/2013 5:29 PM ET
Bonifacio aims to win second-base job
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- This year's Spring Training for the Blue Jays is more about getting ready for the season than it is about finalizing the Opening Day lineup.
Toronto's roster is essentially set in stone. With the exception of some bullpen jobs, the decision on which players will head north has already been made.
The only real position that is up for grabs is second base, where Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis will battle for the everyday job.
It's a unique situation for Bonifacio, who became a bona fide Major Leaguer in Miami, but that doesn't mean the uncertainty has the energetic player any less optimistic about his prospects with the Blue Jays.
"It's really exciting, especially with the team we're going to have here," Bonifacio said on Saturday afternoon, the day all position players were required to report for physicals. "I think it's going to be a fun year.
"I'm really happy to be a part of the Blue Jays. It feels pretty good to be a part, to be traded [from Miami], to be here."
Izturis entered Spring Training as the early favorite to win the job, but there is still a chance Bonifacio could enter the mix with a strong camp. If he's unsuccessful, the 27-year-old Bonifacio should find plenty of opportunities to get into the lineup with his ability to play all over the infield and outfield.
In the past, Bonifacio has played all three outfield positions in addition to second, shortstop and third base. The versatility should prove valuable in the event of injuries, but it's currently the opening at second base that has him most intrigued.
"That's the position I've been playing my whole career, until the last three years I've been playing everywhere," said Bonifacio, who stole 30 bases in just 64 games last season.
"I think it will be pretty exciting being with [Jose] Reyes. Last year, I was hitting behind him -- I just got hurt, but I think we can do something."
Encarnacion trains for another strong season
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The 2012 campaign went down as a major disappointment for the Blue Jays, but the same can't be said for Edwin Encarnacion.
Toronto's first baseman/designated hitter enjoyed a career year in which he hit .280 with 42 homers and 110 RBIs while earning the club's Most Valuable Player award at the end of the season.
It was a banner year. As a result, Encarnacion went through the same routine this offseason in the hopes of maintaining that type of production at the plate.
"Just have to try to be the same guy I was last year," said Encarnacion, who finished just two behind Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the league lead in homers.
"I did my same routine in the offseason, working hard, more harder to put [up] the same number I put last year. I don't have any pressure with that. I'm going to have fun like last year."
Encarnacion will once again follow Jose Bautista and bat cleanup in the Blue Jays' batting order. The heart of the order remains untouched, but with the additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, there should be more of an opportunity this season to drive in runs.
It's a balanced lineup that could feature as many as four switch hitters and possesses a lot of speed. Last year, the club ranked seventh in the American League with 716 runs, but with any luck that number will improve in 2013.
"It was a very exciting moment when I heard that news, because we want to win," Encarnacion said of the club's offseason moves. "Now, I think we have the team to compete in this division, and I think it's going to be a great year.
"You see how many guys they bring to the team -- pitchers, hitters -- it's going to be different than the last couple of years."