Alex Guerrero was signed back in October and is still considered the frontrunner to start at second base, but a new name has emerged from the off-season in Miguel Rojas. Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti mentioned his name as a candidate for the job and Rojas will be in spring training to compete for a spot.
According to Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider, manager Don Mattingly had some high praise for the 24-year-old infielder:
You watch him take ground balls, Mattingly said today of Rojas, it’s like watching (Omar) Vizquel and some guys like that take ‘em. It’s just another level.
Word around the Dodgers has been that Rojas is more of a defensive specialist and his glove is strong enough to be considered a contender for the role, despite his struggles at the plate. He hit just .233 last season in Double-A as the team’s primary shortstop in 130 games. Even in the Venezuelan Winter League this past season, Rojas hit just .241 with four extra-base hits. If Rojas doesn’t take the second base position outright, he’ll likely head back down to the minor leagues because his bat would be a bit more important in a reserve role.
Rojas will be trying to unseat Guerrero at the spot, as well as battle with Dee Gordon and Justin Turner. Those four plus Chone Figgins, Brendan Harris, Justin Sellers.Meanwhile, the recently-signed Erisbel Arruebarruena is a candidate to play at Double A and could take time away from him as the everyday shortstop. Guerrero is a natural shortstop and was supposed to work on learning second base over the off-season in the Dominican Winter League, but injuries kept him out and he will have to get all his reps in the spring.
The slick-fielding Rojas may not make the team this season, but with a glove comparable to an 11-time Gold Glove winner, he may be up soon enough.
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