Andy Burns grabbing John Gibbons’ attention in camp

Toronto Blue Jays minor League utility man Andy Burns is pairing his versatility with a .368 batting average this spring in Dunedin

With a major league roster that is fairly pre-determined, Andy Burns is doing his best to force a difficult decision from general manager Ross Atkins and bench boss John Gibbons.

Now 25-years-old, Burns joined the organization in round 11 of the 2011 MLB Draft and reached the triple-A Buffalo Bisons last season, where he hit .293 over 126 games.

This spring with the Blue Jays, Burns has gone 7-for-19 with a home run, three doubles, five RBI, and four walks. Appearing on the Jeff Blair Show on Thursday morning, manager John Gibbons singled out Burns as the one player that’s surprise him in camp.

“The name that jumps right to mind there is Andy Burns,” he said, adding that he’s been told by Burns’ minor league coaches that he’s big-league ready.

With the Bisons last season, Burns saw time at third base, second, first, shortstop, and both corner outfield spots. While he is not Ryan Goins or Kevin Pillar at each spot, he’s talented enough to keep a wide range of positions safe and that versatility will only help him.

Especially if injury strikes an expected starter, in which Burns could be the next-man-up at multiple positions.

One spot to keep an eye on will be the first base and designated hitter spot with Edwin Encarnacion. Now shut down for at least one week with an oblique issue, John Gibbons admitted that Encarnacion may not be able to take another setback and still open the season on the active roster. Besides, his spring at-bat total still rests at zero.

Given that Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello are already in place and capable of manning those two spots, the Blue Jays would not need to directly fill a first-base injury with a depth first baseman like Casey Kotchman.