Valencia expected to get time in outfield

Valencia expected to get time in outfield

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The fact that Michael Saunders is expected to return in April, instead of the All-Star break, hasn't changed the Blue Jays' plans for Danny Valencia.

The Blue Jays are expected to give Valencia some reps in left field during Spring Training. It's a position he has never played before in the Major Leagues, but the club would like to increase his versatility off the bench.

Valencia primarily will be used as a utility corner infielder this season. But if he's able to learn another position it will only increase the club's overall depth. It's a no-lose situation according to Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.

"We might play with it a little bit," Gibbons said. "He has done it a little bit [in the Minors], but you never know what might happen in this business so we'll give him a look. You won't see a lot of it. So if something happens and you need to put him out there he can do it."

Valencia has one of the few guaranteed jobs on the bench heading into the start of the regular season. The Blue Jays are auditioning a series of candidates for second base, and another spot as utility infielder will be held for a player who can back up Jose Reyes at shortstop.

The 30-year-old Valencia is expected to primarily start against left-handers this season. He has a .327 average and .870 OPS vs. lefties compared a .226 average and .615 against righties during a five-year career.

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.