Izturis aims to prove health, claim second-base job

Coming off a lost season due to knee surgery, Blue Jays infielder ready for intense competition

Izturis aims to prove health, claim second-base job

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Maicer Izturis is back to full health after last year's knee surgery, and he now has his eyes on winning the Blue Jays' starting job at second base.

Izturis was limited to 11 games last season because of a torn ligament in his left knee. He appears to have since made a full recovery and will have the next six weeks to prove the knee is no longer a concern.

Position players aren't required to report until Thursday, but Izturis has been in camp since last week. The fact that he was an early arrival makes plenty of sense because he'll be squaring off against a large group of candidates for playing time up the middle.

"I'm feeling very good," Izturis said Wednesday. "Just trying to do my thing and do much better. ... I've been taking ground balls, hitting. When everybody gets here, we'll see how I turn double plays, run the bases, that kind of stuff."

If Izturis makes a full recovery, he likely will become the favorite to win the starting job at second. It won't be easy, though, because Toronto also is considering Ryan Goins, Devon Travis, possibly even Ramon Santiago and Steve Tolleson for the job.

Izturis is entering the final season of a three-year contract he signed prior to the 2013 season. He has yet to live up to expectations, but there's still a hope that he can get back to the previous form he had with the Angels.

That would be welcome news for the bottom of Toronto's lineup. He has a career on-base percentage of .331 -- despite the .288 mark he set in 2013 -- and that skill set would fit in well with a lineup that has plenty of power but also lots of question marks in the final three spots of the order.

"I'm used to a lot of competition from when I was in Anaheim, and this is kind of similar," Izturis said. "Every year I had to compete, had to get a job, and to me there's no pressure, just try to do my best, try to help my team, and that's the goal."

It's obviously way too early in camp to make any legitimate observations, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons likes what he has seen so far.

"He looks good, he looks the best I've seen him in three years, physically," Gibbons said. "He's moving better, and you never know coming off an injury like that what's going to happen."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.