DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons confirmed the obvious by declaring Ryan Goins as his starting second baseman on Friday morning.
Toronto previously said that Goins would be competing for the job with Maicer Izturis, but the public stance has now changed. Izturis will settle into a utility role while the bulk of the work belongs to Goins.
Gibbons made the statement after discussing Izturis' value as a utility infielder, which then prompted a question about whether he still had a chance to win the starting job.
"Goins is our guy right now," Gibbons said. "We want to see him do his thing. There's always a chance. Opening Day is [Tampa Bay's] David Price so maybe you'd rather have a righty facing him, that could always be a possibility. But we're giving Goins every opportunity to be the guy."
That would leave Izturis to fill the role as a backup infielder at three positions. He has the ability to play second, shortstop and third base, and he'll likely receive time at all of those spots this year when someone needs a day off.
As Gibbons alluded to, there's always the possibility for a platoon role with Goins. The Blue Jays likely would start Goins against right-handers and Izturis against lefties.
"He'll be like a utility guy, we'll try to get him action everywhere," Gibbons said of Izturis.
Navarro happy to catch quick-working Buehrle
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Dioner Navarro has been around the game for the past 10 years, but he has never dealt with a pitcher quite like left-hander Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle is generally considered the fastest working pitcher in the big leagues. As soon as he gets the ball, he's toeing the rubber and looking for a sign from the catcher. There's no patience for any delays.
The veteran left-hander also can't remember the last time he shook off a catcher. Whatever pitch is asked for, Buehrle throws it with no questions asked. That puts an onus on his teammate to make sure the pitch and location matches up with the scouting reports.
"First thing I told him when we met, I said, 'Listen, I don't shake off, so I like the sign down and hope you've got a game plan back there, because I don't really go over one, I don't follow one, so I just kind of go off [the catcher's signs],'" Buehrle said.
"That's big for them to know the hitters and know what I like to throw in certain situations. So far, we're just working on some stuff right now and getting his feedback on certain pitches that I'm throwing, so it's good."
Buehrle and Navarro worked together for the first time during Friday afternoon's game against the Pirates. Buehrle struggled with the control of his sinker, but allowed just two hits and one run over the course of two innings.
The next four weeks will be about building a strong partnership between the pitcher and catcher. Last year's catcher, J.P. Arencibia, struggled to adjust at the outset of the season to Buehrle's timing, and it will be up to Navarro to ensure that doesn't happen this time around.
"I'm up to the challenge," Navarro said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. This guy's been in the league for a long time. He knows what he's supposed to do. He knows how he can work the hitters.
"He doesn't like to call pitches because he trusts all of his stuff, so whatever number I put down, even if it's not the right pitch at the moment, he still has a lot of confidence he's going to throw it. He throws it with conviction, which is the most important thing."
Morrow delivers solid outing, builds confidence
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brandon Morrow made his return to the mound on Friday afternoon and received some positive reviews following his first appearance since last May.
Morrow allowed one run over two innings against the Pirates, but seemed to throw with relative ease and didn't have any issues with his delivery. Unlike previous springs, Morrow used all of his pitches and allowed just two hits.
The 29-year-old came on in relief of left-hander Mark Buehrle in his first game action since he was shut down last year with an impinged nerve in his right forearm.
"The further along I get, the less I worry about it," Morrow said of his injury. "I felt great today, my arm action was great, the ball was coming out as well as I could have asked for. Just another step forward in confidence and I'm feeling good about it."
Morrow retired the side in order during his first inning, but then experienced some difficulty in the fourth. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez, but then quickly settled down and got through the rest of his outing unscathed.
The native of California required just 24 pitches to get through the two innings and his velocity topped out in the 94-95 mph range. That's an encouraging sign this early in camp, but Morrow isn't putting too much stock in it quite yet.
"I'm not worried about that," said Morrow, who had a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts last year. "The hitter will let you know, they had some defensive swings. Regardless of the speed, you know you had some life on there and it was getting on them. That's good enough for me."