Scutaro gearing up for '09 in winter ball
Jays plan to use infielder as starting shortstop next season
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays plan on using Marco Scutaro as their regular shortstop during the upcoming season. For the time being, the versatile infielder is staying in practice in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Through 14 games with Leones del Caracas, Scutaro has hit at a .286 (16-for-56) clip, with four doubles, two home runs, four RBIs and 12 runs scored. Along the way, Scutaro has posted a .385 on-base percentage and a .464 slugging percentage, with as many walks (nine) as strikeouts and four stolen bases.
During the 2008 season, which was his first with Toronto, Scutaro hit .267 with seven homers and 60 RBIs in 145 games. He saw action at six different positions, garnering the most playing time at shortstop (56 games), second base (50) and third base (41), often filling in for one of his injured teammates.
Throughout his career, that's the type of utility role that Scutaro has filled. This time around, though, Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi has indicated that his club is content with handing Scutaro the regular job at short come Opening Day, instead of pursuing another shortstop this offseason.
Here's a look at how other Jays players are faring in the Caribbean winter leagues:
Dominican Winter League
Jose Bautista, OF: Bautista, who was acquired in a trade with the Pirates last season, has gone hitless through nine at-bats for Tigers del Licey. Bautista -- a candidate for a utility job with the Jays -- has drawn one walk in three games.
Marcos Cabral, 2B: Cabral -- a 24-year-old infielder from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic -- has appeared in six games for Aguilas Cibaenas. The infielder has gone 1-for-3 at the plate with a triple and one run scored.
Fabio Castro, LHP: The 23-year-old Castro, who was acquired on Sept. 29 to complete the trade that sent outfielder Matt Stairs to Philadelphia, has posted a 6.11 ERA with 24 strikeouts over 28 innings in seven games (six starts) for Gigantes del Cibao.
Pedro Lopez, INF: Lopez has appeared in 12 games for Estrellas de Oriente. So far, the 24-year-old shortstop has hit at a .286 (8-for-28) clip, with one double, three runs scored, four RBIs and eight walks.
Luis Perez, LHP: The 23-year-old Perez -- a native of Guayubin, Dominican Republic -- has appeared in four games for Leones del Escogido. The lefty has posted a 16.20 ERA, allowing three runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings.
Celson Polanco, RHP: The 24-year-old Polanco has made 11 appearances out of the bullpen for Azucareros del Este. In those outings, Polanco has given up five runs on 17 hits with nine strikeouts and six walks over 9 2/3 innings.
Moises Sierra, OF: Sierra, who also hails from Santo Domingo, has played in 10 games for Gigantes del Cibao. The 20-year-old outfielder has posted a .500 (4-for-8) average, with four singles.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Antonio Jimenez, C: Jimenez -- an 18-year-old catcher out of Bayamon, P.R. -- has appeared in just one game, going hitless in his lone at-bat, for Cangrejeros de Santurce. Jimenez hit .191 in 19 games for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2008.
Orlando Roman, RHP: Roman -- also a native of Bayamon -- has appeared in five games for Criollos de Caguas. The 30-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.81 ERA, allowing 11 runs (eight earned) on 24 hits with 15 strikeouts and nine walks over 25 2/3 innings.
Angel Sanchez, SS: Toronto claimed Sanchez, 25, off waivers from the Royals on Nov. 3, and the shortstop has appeared in 13 games for Cangrejeros de Santurce. So far, Sanchez has hit .319 (15-for-47), with three RBIs and five runs scored.
Venezuelan Winter League
Jonas Cuotto, RHP: Cuotto, 22, has posted a 4.80 ERA in four outings (three starts) for Caribas de Anzoategui. In those appearances, the righty gave up 14 runs (eight earned) on 19 hits, including three homers, with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 15 innings.
Edgar Estanga, LHP: Estanga -- a 23-year-old lefty from Maturin, Venezuela -- has appeared in 14 games for Navegantes del Magallanes. In those relief outings, Estanga has posted a 3.24 ERA, allowing four runs (three earned) in 8 1/3 innings.
Jonathan Jaspe, C: Jaspe made an appearance as a defensive replacement at first base for Cardinales de Lara on Oct. 29, but had no at-bats. The 23-year-old catcher hit .290 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 64 games at Class A Lansing in 2008.
Yorman Mayora, RHP: Mayora -- a native of Crespo, Venezuela -- has appeared in one game for Cardenales de Lara. In that outing on Oct. 31, the 21-year-old righty yielded two runs (one earned) after walking four batters in one-third of an inning.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.