The Los Angeles Dodgers remain excited about the offensive potential of Alexander Guerrero, whom they signed in October after he defected from Cuba. He might have "30 home run power" (although, in Dodger Stadium, good luck with that). But they seem worried about Guerrero's defense at second base, ESPN's Mark Saxon reports, and they're scheming to have a backup plan if he can't hack it there right away. There's also a chance he'll start the season in the minor leagues, even with a four-year, $28 million major-league contract in hand.
The choices for a replacement range from Chone Figgins, who is attempting a comeback and was invited to spring training, to Michael Young, who is unsigned and on the verge of retirement but the Dodgers want back. There's also Miguel Rojas, a defensive whiz but a career .234 hitter in eight minor league seasons. And Dee Gordon is still hanging around.
Guerrero was a shortstop in Cuba. It's not wise to transition most second basemen to short because of range deficiencies, but going from short to second isn't easy, either, for other reasons. For one, a lot of tasks are done backward — most obviously the double-play pivot. The Dodgers wanted to get Guerrero started during Dominican winter league action, but hamstring issues wrecked that idea.
Saxon also points out: Much of the Dodgers infield defense is in a tenuous situation. How many games can they rely on Hanley Ramirez at short? And have his defensive abilities eroded to the point that he needs to play third, instead, every day. Are they counting on Juan Uribe to play too much? Do they really expect Gordon to be a viable backup? What happens if (when?) Ramirez gets hurt? Or even Uribe?
Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Mark Ellis have moved on, and Young is talking like he'd like to be done. Coming off an NL West title, the Dodgers are expected to contend for the World Series again. But they also have serious question marks at major spots on the roster. Three-fifths of the infield, possibly.
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