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Errors a sign Bonifacio needs more reps at second base

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.

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