Valencia may earn full-time role next season

Gibbons hints that veteran's play could move Lawrie from third to second

Valencia may earn full-time role next season

BOSTON -- The Blue Jays clearly have missed Brett Lawrie's presence in the lineup, but manager John Gibbons likes what he has seen out of his replacement the past several weeks.

Toronto acquired Danny Valencia from the Royals before the non-waiver Trade Deadline with the intention of using him in a platoon role with Juan Francisco at third base. Valencia has since won the everyday job as Francisco has all but completely fallen out of the mix because of his prolonged struggles at the plate.

Almost all of Valencia's career success has come against left-handed pitching, but it's been the recent performance against righties that has been at least a little surprising.

"I like the way he looks," Gibbons said. "I saw him a little bit in Minnesota when he was playing against righties and lefties and I really liked him back then. Then he got thrown into that role against strictly lefties. We're trying to get him some at-bats against righties and let him settle in. I like everything I've seen."

Valencia has been a part-time player since 2012 and the numbers show why. The native of Miami is a career .229 hitter with a .625 OPS against right-handers, but has an impressive .331 average and .875 OPS against lefties.

Once a player gets labeled as a platoon player, it's almost impossible to change that perception. The only way it can happen is if the opportunity presents itself, and that's what occurred for Valenica when Lawrie's return from the disabled list in August lasted all of three innings before he got hurt again.

For the first time in three seasons, Valencia has an opportunity to reestablish himself as an everyday player. It's still questionable whether that can happen, but it's clear that the Blue Jays are paying close attention to his results. If Valencia succeeds, there's a possibility that Lawrie will move to second base next year to accommodate Valencia at third.

"With Valencia, if he turns out to be a good player for us, which he is doing, and he can help us, it might open up a spot for him," Gibbons said. "Might answer our question."

What question is that?

"Maybe he's the third baseman, Brett's the second baseman, who knows?" Gibbons said. "That's not definite ... I'm not saying Brett's our second baseman next year."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for 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.