Opitz in the Utility Role

LANSING, MI - Shane Opitz might not see the diamond as much as his teammates do this season, but when he does, he said he makes the best of the opportunity. The shortstop has played only seven games thus far, batting .250 with one RBI. Regardless of the limited playing time, Hitting Coach Kenny Graham said he believes that Opitz has the potential to develop into a great ball player.

"He's not a guy who plays everyday at shortstop, so he's going to have to fill that utility role and play shortstop, play a little bit of second base and maybe even third base," he said. "(He has to) continue to show up and work hard and keeping working and when the bell rings, be ready to go."

Opitz might be impressing Graham this season, but the spring may have not started the way Opitz was entirely expecting.

He did not join the team for Spring Training, and instead was called up for Extended Spring Training. Although Opitz said it was "kind of disappointing," he added that he made the best out of the situation that was handed to him.

"If anything, it made me more confident," he said. "I stayed down there and refined everything and it was good to keep a good attitude when having to go through something like that."

Likewise, Graham said he believes the situation worked out for the better.

"He had a great (Extended) Spring Training," Graham said. "He really turned it on at the end of [EST]. It was a tough decision for the organization whether to bring him up or not, he's a young guy and it's just one of those things we leave in the player's hands to tell us when they're ready. He went down to extended and he was doing a great job down there and he's come up here and done a great job for us."

Some players might feel like they would be in an underdog position after not breaking spring training, but Opitz said that wasn't the case.

"I played with all these guys last year," he said. "We were all in Vancouver together so maybe if that wasn't the case, I would feel like [the underdog], but I'm really comfortable with them."

Optiz was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft after turning down a baseball scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Although he is still working for his playing time, Opitz said he doesn't regret the decision he made to enter the draft.

Since then, he's played for the GCL Blue Jays where he batted .303/.361/.455 in 10 games, and Vancouver where he batted .259/.312/.285 and had 25 RBI in 63 games.

This season, Opitz said he is focusing on improving all aspects of his game, not just one area in particular.

"(In spring training) there wasn't one thing that I was satisfied with, so in extended, (I worked on) defense, offense, everything," he said.

Graham said he is happy with how Optiz has been performing so far, but because of his young age, he needs more training and time on the field before he can reach his full potential.

"Right now he's been playing a fantastic shortstop for us," he said. "He shows up everyday and he's one of those guys that if he can get to the ball, you're out. He's very accurate with his arm, he does a great job there. Offensively, he has a nice swing. He's just still a young kid. He needs to put on some weight, put on some strength and once he does that I think his bat will really develop even more."

Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\"He's not a guy who plays everyday at shortstop, so he's going to have to fill that utility role and play shortstop, play a little bit of second base and maybe even third base,\" he said. \"(He has to) continue to show up and work hard and keeping working and when the bell rings, be ready to go.\"
\r\n\r\n
Opitz might be impressing Graham this season, but the spring may have not started the way Opitz was entirely expecting.
\r\n\r\n
He did not join the team for Spring Training, and instead was called up for Extended Spring Training. Although Opitz said it was \"kind of disappointing,\" he added that he made the best out of the situation that was handed to him.
\r\n\r\n
\"If anything, it made me more confident,\" he said. \"I stayed down there and refined everything and it was good to keep a good attitude when having to go through something like that.\"
\r\n\r\n
Likewise, Graham said he believes the situation worked out for the better.
\r\n\r\n
\"He had a great (Extended) Spring Training,\" Graham said. \"He really turned it on at the end of [EST]. It was a tough decision for the organization whether to bring him up or not, he's a young guy and it's just one of those things we leave in the player's hands to tell us when they're ready. He went down to extended and he was doing a great job down there and he's come up here and done a great job for us.\"
\r\n\r\n
Some players might feel like they would be in an underdog position after not breaking spring training, but Opitz said that wasn't the case.
\r\n\r\n
\"I played with all these guys last year,\" he said. \"We were all in Vancouver together so maybe if that wasn't the case, I would feel like [the underdog], but I'm really comfortable with them.\"
\r\n\r\n
Optiz was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft after turning down a baseball scholarship to the University of Nebraska. Although he is still working for his playing time, Opitz said he doesn't regret the decision he made to enter the draft.
\r\n\r\n
Since then, he's played for the GCL Blue Jays where he batted .303/.361/.455 in 10 games, and Vancouver where he batted .259/.312/.285 and had 25 RBI in 63 games.
\r\n\r\n
This season, Opitz said he is focusing on improving all aspects of his game, not just one area in particular.
\r\n\r\n
\"(In spring training) there wasn't one thing that I was satisfied with, so in extended, (I worked on) defense, offense, everything,\" he said.
\r\n\r\n
Graham said he is happy with how Optiz has been performing so far, but because of his young age, he needs more training and time on the field before he can reach his full potential.
\r\n\r\n
\"Right now he's been playing a fantastic shortstop for us,\" he said. \"He shows up everyday and he's one of those guys that if he can get to the ball, you're out. He's very accurate with his arm, he does a great job there. Offensively, he has a nice swing. He's just still a young kid. He needs to put on some weight, put on some strength and once he does that I think his bat will really develop even more.\"
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