Last Spring I had the opportunity to watch Alex Guerrero and Dee Gordon working side-by-side at second base at Camelback Ranch. Before Gordon embarked on his All-Star season with the Dodgers in 2014, I had all but given up on Gordon being a starter for the Dodgers after his string of errors from shortstop and his inability to get on base consistently. Alex Guerrero, whom the Dodgers signed as an amateur free agent in 2013, was also in the mix to play second base.
Both infielders seemed somewhat capable at second base, but it was Gordon who claimed the starting role and exceeded expectations by surprising us all with his defense. Gordon even made some remarkably acrobatic plays from second base which wouldn’t even been handled by some of the best second baseman in the game. With a shorter distance to throw from second to third, Gordon’s errant throws were also muted.
Alex Guerrero’s offense has never been the question, but many have felt that his defense was not up to par. Even though Guerrero played mostly shortstop in Cuba, his defensive abilities have been questionable at the Major League level. With Dee’s shift from short to second, Guerrero spent most of 2014 in triple-A Albuquerque where he put up solid offensive numbers (.329/.364/.613) over 65 games.
Guerrero played mostly second base for the Isotopes where he made 6 errors, but the Dodgers began playing him in left field as well in order to try to find a spot for him.
Guerrero briefly played for the Dodgers in September, but he only managed to collect one hit in 13 at-bats. He appeared in left field in 3 games for the Dodgers during his cup of coffee.
Guerrero is now entering his second season with the Dodgers, and they have to find somewhere to play him. His four-year $28 million contract allows him to nix a minor league assignment this upcoming season which he already stated that he would do.
I had the opportunity to watch Guerrero taking grounders and working at third base during at Camelback Ranch last Saturday, and I was able to capture some of his workout on video.
Juan Castro, who is the Dodgers minor league infield coordinator, was behind Guerrero giving him tips in Spanish during the workout. As you can see from the video, Guerrero was fielding routine grounders hit to him and either throwing to second or third. He threw across from third to first a few times, although his throws were not always accurate.
Perhaps if Alex can continue to work at third base to hone his defensive skills, he could be valuable off the bench as a utility player. As of right now, Justin Turner is locked in as a bench player and has been playing shortstop, first base and third base for the Dodgers this Spring. Darwin Barney, who is an excellent defender, is therefore on the bubble should Alex Guerrero win a roster spot. Barney did hit a two-run homerun during Sunday’s Dodger victory over the Mariners, but Guerrero’s bat is most definitely more potent than the slick fielding Barney.
Guerrero’s defensive capabilities have been somewhat downgraded prematurely in my opinion. Although he is not anywhere as capable as Juan Uribe who excels at the hot corner, Guerrero looks to be capable enough to play third base off the bench when needed.
Guerrero’s hot spring at the plate may make the decision a bit easier for the Dodgers. He’s hitting .438 with 7 hits including a homerun and 3 RBIs in 9 games and 16 at-bats.