Alexander Guerrero represents the Los Angeles Dodgers’ most pressing concern regarding their Opening Day roster, and he hesitantly revealed on Friday that he still believes that he can be the starter at second base when the Dodgers open their season in Australia, saying to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"I think so. Ultimately, it's a team decision. On my side, I'm working as hard as I can."
The statement does not exactly exude confidence, but Gurnick painted Guerrero as the “anti-Puig” in his article. Perhaps it is merely humility, or perhaps it is concern that the adaptation period is taking longer than he expected.
"The positioning, the ball off the bat, the movement — it's all reversed," Guerrero said to Gurnick regarding his conversion from short to second base. "But anybody that plays shortstop can play any position in the infield."
Guerrero has been previously billed as a defensively adequate shortstop that possesses a powerful bat. At the keystone position, Guerrero’s bat would be his true value, and the Dodgers are likely hopeful that any defensive shortcomings are greatly outweighed by his offensive output.
Many scouts were not high on Guerrero’s potential as a big leaguer, though it should be noted that many scouts thought the same thing of Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have had a great deal of success, especially recently, with international signings and Guerrero seems hopeful that he will be the next.
There is reason to be concerned about Guerrero’s readiness. He was forced to sit out the 2013 season and was unable to play much in the Dominican Winter League due to a hamstring injury. Despite these apparent issues, the second base job is likely Guerrero’s to lose. Currently, the Dodgers have Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins and Miguel Rojas potentially vying for the position in spring training. Figgins seems better suited for a utility role rather than a starting job, and Dee Gordon did not show much in terms of defensive or offensive ability in the time he spent with the Dodgers last year. Rojas is known for his solid glove as much as he is for his lack of offensive capabilities.
The Dodgers must believe in Guerrero as well, otherwise they would not have signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal. They also allowed Mark Ellis, who could have been under team control had they merely exercised his $5.25 million option, to stay as a stopgap in case Guerrero was not ready. When these facts are taken into consideration, it is hard to see Guerrero anywhere but starting at second when the Dodgers kick off the season in Australia.
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