Guer­rero homers again, though Dodgers are swept. Should he be in the lineup?

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

SAN FRAN­CISCO — In a three-game sweep by the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants that con­cluded Thurs­day with a 3-2 de­feat in 10 innings, the Dodgers scored a to­tal of six runs.

Four of them were driven in by Alex Guer­rero.

So, as the Dodgers trav­eled to San Diego to open a three-game se­ries against the Padres on Fri­day, the de­bate re­gard­ing Guer­rero’s play­ing time con­tin­ued.

In the se­ries fi­nale against the Gi­ants at AT&T Park, Guer­rero started for only the third time this sea­son and re­sponded by belt­ing his fourth home run, send­ing a sec­ond-in­ning of­fer­ing from Ryan Vo­gel­song over the wall in left-cen­ter field.

He also home­red the pre­vi­ous night as a pinch-hit­ter.

Guer­rero is bat­ting .474. He has only 19 at-bats, but is tied for eighth in the Na­tional League with 12 runs bat­ted in.

How­ever, the 28-year-old rookie is per­ceived as some­thing of a player with­out a de­fen­sive po­si­tion.

He was a life­long short-

stop in his na­tive Cuba, but the Dodgers didn’t think he had the range to play the po­si­tion in the ma­jor leagues and tried to turn him into a sec­ond base­man last sea­son. That didn’t work and Guer­rero spent most of the sea­son in the mi­nor leagues.

Dodgers man­age­ment now ap­pears to be most com­fort­able with him as a third base­man, which places him in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with Juan Uribe.

Uribe is 36, but is still con­sid­ered one of the best de­fen­sive third base­men in base­ball. He is also one of the most popular play­ers on the team.

Other play­ers ac­knowl­edge Manager Don Mat­tingly has a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make.

On one hand, how can Mat­tingly not play Guer­rero if he’s hit­ting like this? On the other, is it fair to Uribe to de­mote him less than three weeks into the sea­son?

Guer­rero made it clear he wants to play ev­ery day. But he was also diplo­matic, say­ing in Span­ish, “I’m not in charge. If they don’t put me in, I have to make the most of the chances I get. I have to re­spect the de­ci­sion of the manager.”

Based on what Mat­tingly said be­fore the game Thurs­day, it sounds as if Uribe will re­main the pri­mary third base­man for now.

Mat­tingly said the de­ci­sion to start Guer­rero that day was made days ear­lier and wasn’t the re­sult of the home run he hit Wed­nes­day night.

“We know we have a long sea­son, a long way to go,” Mat­tingly said. “You put things to­gether dur­ing the win­ter know­ing who your per­son­nel [are] and how you think you see it work­ing. Some­times, you stay with that course. Other times, you have to get off that course. We’ve played, how many games? I just don’t think we’re will­ing to just go run in a whole ’nother thing.”

But Mat­tingly said he would re­main open-minded.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’re not go­ing to be hard­headed to the point where we’re go­ing to say, ‘This is what we said we’re go­ing to do and we’re go­ing to stay with it.’ You make de­ci­sions based on where you’re at, where you’re go­ing.”

Mat­tingly ap­peared un­com­fort­able with the line of ques­tion­ing. Asked if he con­sid­ered des­ig­nat­ing Guer­rero the start­ing third base­man and turn­ing Uribe into his late-game de­fen­sive re­place­ment, Mat­tingly re­sponded with a ques­tion of his own, ask­ing what he should do with util­ity man Justin Turner, who bat­ted .340 last sea­son.

“Where does J.T. fit in your plan?” Mat­tingly snapped. “Does he not play? Should he not start and then some­body come in for him? I know the peo­ple are chant­ing for Alex right now, but there’s other guys, too, that prob­a­bly have swung the bat bet­ter. J.T. hits .340 last year, leads the league in hit­ting, ba­si­cally. Now, be­cause he’s not the fla­vor of the day, we start talk­ing about some­body else. That’s where we can’t get in­volved with what hap­pened over a 10-day pe­riod.

“We have to make de­ci­sions based on long term and what we see and project, but also with the fact that things change. Not dis­count­ing Alex, but you still have a full ros­ter we know we’ll use over the course of the sea­son.”

Thearon W. Hen­der­son Getty Images

JUSTIN MAXWELL of the Gi­ants is the cen­ter of at­ten­tion af­ter hit­ting a 10th-in­ning sin­gle that scored An­gel Pa­gan with the win­ning run at AT&T Park. San Fran­cisco took three in a row from the Dodgers.

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