DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos didn't hold back earlier this week in his praise of second baseman Ryan Goins.
Goins is technically competing for the starting job at second base, but in all likelihood he will receive most of the work up the middle. Maicer Izturis is also in the mix but will probably spend most of the year in a utility role while starting against left-handed pitchers.
The Blue Jays still don't know what to expect offensively from Goins, but Anthopoulos said his defense made him a standout.
"Defensively, the more you watch him, the more you realize how good he is defensively, just his actions, the way he moves," Anthopoulos said.
"We're going to value the defense because it's that good. He has room to do less offensively because the defense is so elite. I don't use that word lightly. I really think he's elite, and he's got a chance to win a Gold Glove there."
Goins came up through the Minor Leagues as a shortstop but made a flawless transition to second base late last season. He has tremendous range up the middle, good hands and a quick release that is especially valuable when turning a double play.
The big question mark about Goins, though, is the bat, and the questions really won't be answered once and for all until the start of the regular season.
"The tough part is, you realize it's two at-bats a game, three at-bats a game; the competition level varies," Anthopoulos said of Goins' spring audition.
"Goins is the front-runner because of the defense that he showed, but he still has to earn that job."