Heading into Spring Training this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ infield was set in stone, which is change from 2014 when there was a position battle at second base.
None of Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins or Juan Uribe will be unseated as starters, however who plays behind them in a role off the bench is largely unknown. Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke are essentially locks to make the roster, so too is Andre Ethier should he not be traded, which the club reportedly is attempting to do.
Outside of those three players, the Dodgers have plenty of options to fill out the remaining spots available. Among them is Alex Guerrero, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Dodgers in October of last year and was pegged as the future second baseman.
Dee Gordon went on to solidify the position for the Dodgers and now Kendrick looks to follow suit, albeit in the final year of his contract. That leaves Guerrero, a natural infielder with some versatility and a stronger bat than glove, without much a true position.
The Dodgers played the 28 year old in left field in September last year and now are giving him a look at third base during Spring Training. When asked if that was to be his set position with the club, manager Don Mattingly wasn’t ready to confirm the notion.
“I don’t think we know enough to say that’s his spot,” he said. “You’re going to see him at third, you’re going to see him in left tomorrow [Saturday]. So, again, we talked about giving him some versatility — for him and for us.”
Mattingly went on to add Guerrero has made an impression working at third base. “I will say, we like the way he looks over there. Wally really likes the way he looks over there. Our infield guy seem like that’s been our favorite spot for him.”
Of the 77 games Guerrero played in multiple Minor-League levels, only four were spent at third base; with his primary position being second base (54 games). Nonetheless, Guerrero appears to be at ease despite being worked out at a position in which he is relatively inexperienced in playing.
“He just seems so much more comfortable this year,” Mattingly said. “That’s the one thing I’ve noticed. We go back to last year, he’s coming in here and doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t know one face… That can’t be easy.”
On top of working to upgrade the pitching depth, the Dodgers front office has also succeeded in adding more versatility to the rosters. Some pitchers now with the club can be used in multiple roles and the same holds true with position players such as Chris Heisey and Kiké Hernandez.
Guerrero can’t be optioned to the Minors this season without his consent, which to no surprise, he’s gone on record to say he won’t give it. Because of the infield depth in the organization, some believe Guerrero is a candidate to be traded and while that may hold true, a deal doesn’t appear imminent.
With a shade under five weeks until the start of the regular season, any extra versatility and value Guerrero can develop during spring will help his case for seeing playing time with the Dodgers and not simply making the roster due to a contractual obligation.
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