DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' defense should be one of their strengths, but it has been a glaring weakness so far this spring.
Toronto has plenty of issues that need to be worked out, especially up the middle, where Emilio Bonifacio has gotten off to a very rough start at second base.
Bonifacio committed a pair of throwing errors during Friday's 5-4 victory over the Rays. He now has three errors this spring and likely could have been charged with more on a couple of errant throws.
"We have to tighten up our defense," manager John Gibbons said. "I know it's early but we've been a little bit shaky up the middle. We've had a lot of chances to turn some double plays and we haven't done it."
Bonifacio came up through the Minors as a second baseman but has received most of his playing time in the outfield during the past couple of years with the Marlins. In 2012, Bonifacio appeared in 15 games at second while in 2011 he started there just twice.
The problem is that in Toronto the only starting job still up for grabs is at second. If Bonifacio wants to be on the field regularly, he'll need to prove he's capable at the position to have any shot at beating out Maicer Izturis for the job.
"I didn't see him too much at second base, he was more center field for us," said Mark Buehrle, who was Bonifacio's teammate in Miami last season. "I know he played a lot of infield previous years before I was down there and he played outfield last year. I think it's almost like a new position, just trying to get used to a whole new infield and not being in the outfield. He's a good athlete, I think he'll be fine."
The one positive to take from Bonifacio's performance early in camp is that he has displayed nice hands at the position. He's had no issues handling tough grounders but seems to have difficulty unleashing a controlled throw, especially when attempting to turn the double play.
Gibbons doesn't agree with Buehrle's theory about it being like a new position but says there's a need for more repetition at second to get Bonifacio accustomed to the role.
"He has played it enough," Gibbons said. "We're looking at him for that job but I think it's just a matter of him getting out there and doing a bit more of it. It's early on, we're doing it every day but we just need to do a little bit more of it I guess."
Izturis hasn't been a whole lot better. He committed an error on Friday as well and has two so far this spring. There appears to be less concern about him, though, as Izturis has gained a reputation of being a slick fielder throughout his career.
Santos ready to reclaim closer's role if needed
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are still hopeful that Casey Janssen will be ready for the start of the season, but if he's not, the club has a capable replacement to step in and fill the void.
While Janssen continues rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, it's right-hander Sergio Santos who is starting to take center stage. Santos has pitched two scoreless innings so far this spring, but it's not the results that matter -- it's the dominating fashion in which he has performed.
Santos has been overpowering and is displaying the type of arsenal the Blue Jays expected all along when they made him the key offseason acquisition in a trade with the White Sox prior to the 2012 campaign.
"It's frustrating because you want him to be healthy because he's such a big piece in that bullpen and I think that's the most important thing," said Santos, who recorded 30 saves in 2011 with Chicago.
"I don't want him to rush and go through what I went through, trying to push through things, because as much as we'd like him in April, we don't need him in April, we need August, September and hopefully October. As long as he's back, we'll be fine."
Santos can relate because he went through a similar scenario last spring. As the start of the season neared, he experienced some arm discomfort but attempted to pitch through the pain.
His season lasted just six games before he was eventually shut down. A long rehab ensued, but Santos was unable to recover from a right shoulder injury and surgery was required in late July.
Santos has long since recovered from that procedure. During Thursday afternoon's game against the Yankees he topped out at 96 mph while displaying an impressive slider. The one pitch that has yet to be added into the mix is his changeup.
It's a pitch that he has been throwing regularly on the side but hasn't improved enough to the point where he can use it in games.
"So far, so good," Santos said of the changeup. "Obviously it's not where I want it to be but it's still early. I'm going to use the whole month of March to really pound that and use it as another pitch.
"When I was in the bullpen I threw maybe 15 of them. In the game, if we had a chance to we were going to and I think Henry [Blanco] was going to call one. But I wanted to get more command of my fastball and I want to get that dialed in before moving on to something else."
Rasmus sidelined few days with shoulder soreness
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Center fielder Colby Rasmus is expected to be out of action until Tuesday because of a sore right shoulder.
Rasmus came out of Wednesday's game against the Astros after experiencing discomfort in the area. He was later examined and a significant injury has been ruled out.
"They don't think it's a big deal," manager John Gibbons said. "He had it checked out. Minor inflammation. With the off-day on Monday, we may just hold him out until after that."
Rasmus likely could have received clearance to play this weekend, but with the regular season still a month away, there's no reason to push the issue. The club is taking a cautious approach with his workload after Rasmus began to wear down late last season.
The hope is that a more balanced schedule will allow him to survive the rigors of a 162-game season. Rasmus has been impressive in limited action this spring after unveiling a modified approach to his batting stance.
Rasmus still positions himself close to the plate and near the front of the batter's box, but this year he has dropped the hands in his batting stance. The hope is that the lower hand slot combined with a lower leg kick will improve his timing at the plate.
"I like the way he looks," Gibbons said. "I didn't know a whole lot about him coming in. His swings look good, he's just missing some balls, fouling them back, but he's right on them."