It is the only uncertain spot on the Blue Jays’ diamond, the only competition for an everyday job, and so far neither competitor has inspired much confidence.
Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis are vying to be the Jays’ starting second baseman, the only role outside of the backup catcher and a couple spots in the bullpen that isn’t already spoken for.
Though it’s still early days in the preseason and sloppy play has abounded throughout both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues, neither Bonifacio nor Izturis have made strong first impressions.
Bonifacio, who played primarily in the outfield last season, has struggled mightily with his throws in the infield, accumulating four errors in just 39 innings, tied for most this spring.
Izturis, meanwhile, hasn’t registered a hit and has two errors of his own.
Jays’ manager John Gibbons says he isn’t concerned, that it’s still early and the defence will tighten up over the next few weeks.
“We’re not even worried about that right now,” he said over the weekend, after Bonifacio once again failed to turn a tailor-made double-play. “We’ve got a whole month left (and) he’s going to be a big part of our team one way or another, wherever he’s playing.”
Gibbons did, however, concede that those kinds of fundamental mistakes usually prove costly: “Those are the things where you win and lose ballgames in the end.”
And that’s the big fear about this as-yet cold competition: that it may prove to be the weak link in what otherwise looks like a solid Jays’ roster.
Gibbons would love to have Bonifacio’s speed in the lineup every day — he stole 30 bases last season in just 64 games, and was caught only three times — but his shaky defence may be a liability.
Izturis, who was signed in the offseason to a three-year $9 million deal, was solid filling in at second last year on the Angels, but he has served a mostly backup role throughout his career.