When Alex Guerrero reported for Spring Training this year where he fit in with the Los Angeles Dodgers was a large question mark. He wasn’t able to win the starting job at second base in 2014 and he certainly wasn’t going to unseat Howie Kendrick now.
Guerrero has since morphed into a left fielder/third baseman utility player, buying time in the lineup with a big bat, which allowed time for his glove to come around. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has lauded the Cuban native for adapting to the utility role and said on multiple occasions the club is pleased with how comfortable Guerrero has looked at the hot corner.
In the Dodgers’ 15 games since trading Juan Uribe to the Atlanta Braves, Guerrero’s played in 12 and made eight starts. However, none have come at third base. Instead, it’s been Justin Turner or Alberto Callaspo platooning there with Guerrero placed in left field.
Prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly touched on the difficulty in finding playing time for Guerrero. “The toughest thing with Alex has been, we like him at third base,” Mattingly said. “We like the way that’s looking, but we can’t put him anywhere where he can play every day, every day.”
As a result, the Dodgers have been attempting to teach Guerrero on the move, which has come with the expected errors and adventures — though primarily only in left field. “At the big-league level, you’re trying to learn to play third and at the big-league level you’re trying to play left; that’s the toughest thing,” Mattingly said.
“I think he can play third and I think he can play left. But the amount of experience we’re able to give him is just going to retard the process, as far as him playing every day and getting a chance to be really good somewhere.” With Yasiel Puig back from the disabled list it figures to further cut into Guerrero’s playing time as Andre Ethier gets bumped from one corner outfield spot to the other.
While Guerrero conceivably could form a platoon of sorts with Ethier, the Dodgers also have Chris Heisey, who carries a stronger glove, that can be used. Granted, that may soon become Scott Van Slyke once he’s reinstated from the 15-day DL.
Through 46 games Guerrero is batting .278/.309/.617 with 10 home runs and 17 RBIs. After a torrid start to the season, he’s hitting just .200/.222/.450 over the last 28 days (22 games). While Hector Olivera’s expected arrival may further muddy the picture for Guerrero, trading him may not be the easiest of tasks should that be the direction the Dodgers opt to go in.
Along with a clause in his contract that prevents him from being optioned to the Minors without his consent, Guerrero can opt out of his four-year deal at the conclusion of any season in which he’s traded.
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