Kawasaki makes debut at second base

Kawasaki makes debut at second base

Kawasaki makes debut at second base

BOSTON -- Munenori Kawasaki returned to the Blue Jays lineup on Sunday against the Red Sox, but in an unfamiliar position.

Kawasaki, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo when Melky Cabrera was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, batted ninth and played second base for the first time in his Major League career.

Kawasaki had only played shortstop at the big league level before Sunday, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons thinks second base could be a good fit.

"He can do that," Gibbons said. "It could be a natural position for him."

Ever since Jose Reyes returned from the disabled list on Wednesday, Gibbons has routinely shuffled the infield lineup. In the five games, he's used four different combinations at second base, shortstop and third base.

Maicer Izturis, Mark DeRosa and Edwin Encarnacion have all played at third during the span, with Emilio Bonifacio, Izturis and now Kawasaki getting time at second base.

At least for now, shuffling is the plan for the immediate future.

"We'll just kind of rotate those guys depending on the matchup," Gibbons said. "With Kawasaki back, we can approach it some different ways out there."

It's been a hectic week for Kawasaki. He was sent back to Triple-A when Reyes returned from the disabled list, but was called back to the big leagues about 48 hours later because of Cabrera's injury.

When Kawasaki walked through the door of the visiting locker room at Fenway Park on Friday he yelled, "I'm back," and gave a delighted Jose Bautista a hug.

Kawasaki has always been a positive clubhouse presence, but Gibbons said having a guy they can count on to perform despite being shuttled between Triple-A and the Majors is also important.

"Those guys are very valuable," Gibbons said. "Some guys go back and forth, back and forth. You don't like to do that, but he fits in that mold."

In 151 at-bats this season before Sunday, Kawasaki is hitting .225 with a .337 on base percentage and 17 RBIs.

Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.