Guerrero OK with Mattingly's plan for 2B platoon
Feb. 20, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Cuban prospect Alexander Guerrero is comfortable with his manager saying a platoon at second base is a possibility.
"No problem," Guerrero said through an interpreter. "It's fine as long as I'm continuing to work on making the adjustment."
Guerrero, whom the Dodgers signed to a four-year, $28 million contract in October, is in camp trying to prove he can be the Dodgers' everyday second baseman. manager Don Mattingly likes his chances. But the move from shortstop, his primary position in Cuba, to second is just one adjustment among many.
"We really feel good about him," Mattingly said. "The biggest thing is just his willingness to work hard. He wants to keep working and working. We're trying to make sure we don't let him do too much at one time and get confused. We feel like there's more than just second base. There's country and language. It's a lot at one time."
A platoon system might be one way to buy more time for Guerrero, who defected from Cuba last year. Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins, Justin Sellers, Brendan Harris and Miguel Rojas are also in the hunt for the job after Mark Ellis, last year's starter, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I think it would probably be good for him, because then you're giving him a chance to play and, hopefully, getting him favorable matchups, but also keeping him strong and rested," Mattingly said. "He's a guy who hasn't played in a couple years."
Guerrero hasn't played at a high level since 2012. He sat out last season after he was left off Cuba's World Baseball Classic roster. His frustration at not being part of Cuba's national team was a factor in his decision to defect, he said. In his third attempt, Guerrero, his brother and two friends reached Haiti by boat. He then went to the Dominican Republic.
After signing with the Dodgers, he played winter ball in The Dominican Republic. However, his work at second base was somewhat limited by two hamstring injuries. But the transition to second base has been smooth, he said, since arriving last week at Dodger camp.
"I'm here every day, here to do my work and my training," said Guerrero, whose wife and two children are still in Cuba. "I'm getting better every day. Ultimately, they are going to make some decisions."
In Cuba, Guerrero was known as a powerful hitter. In 547 games, he hit .308 in with 102 home runs. But the Dodgers still don't know how he'll do against major league pitching. They have yet to play a spring training game. Their first one is scheduled for Feb. 26 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"You see guys all the time and their swing looks good and they've got some power," Mattingly said. "We need to see Alex in games. All of our people have said a lot of good things. He's had success at a lot of different places, but he needs to get back into the swing, too. It's been a while since he's played games consistently."
Mattingly said he also will consider the platoon system because of the options it gives him.
"It gets you a good matchup usually," he said. "And it keeps guys fresh."
NOTES: Josh Beckett, who is trying to reclaim a spot in the Dodgers' starting rotation, threw batting practice for the first time Wednesday. "I was a little nervous going in," said Beckett, who in July had a rib and muscle tissue removed to alleviate a nerve condition that caused numbness in his right hand. "This whole surgery thing is different than anything I've been through. Basically, you've got to ride it out. Mentally, I think, today was a big hurdle for me. The more often I face hitters, the better. I felt really good today. I'm excited." ... Right-hander Dan Haren also threw batting practice. "It was nice," said Haren, who signed with the Dodgers on Nov. 25. "It got a little monotonous, throwing so many bullpens over a few days. This got the adrenaline going a little, so it was good."