Is there more to Alex Guerrero’s assignment at Rancho than just to rehab?

Although we will never really know for sure, there is every reason to believe that had Dodgers infield prospect Alex Guerrero not had his ear bitten off by banished former MLB catcher Miguel Olivo, he would have been called up to the Dodgers – ahead of Erisbel Arruebarrena, ahead of Carlos Triunfel, ahead of Jamie Romak and ahead of Miguel Rojas. But instead, Olivo’s senseless and violent act landed Guerrero in the hospital for almost a week and on the disabled list for almost two months.

At the time of this inexcusable incident, the 27-year-old Guerrero was tearing it up at Triple-A Albuquerque and had pretty much proven that he was MLB-ready. But it all came to a screeching halt on that May 20 afternoon.

“After the accident it was about a month and a half that I didn’t do anything,” Guerrero said through an interpreter on Thursday afternoon.

When Guerrero finally resumed baseball play on July 11, he did so with the Arizona Dodgers of the Arizona Rookie League, playing with kids almost ten years young than himself. As expected, Guerrero dominated, going 8 for 23 (.348) with one double, two home runs and six RBIs in the seven games in which he played. Although Guerrero was the designated hitter for three of those seven games, he also played one game each at second base and third base and two games at his natural shortstop position.

Through eleven rehab games thus far, Guerrero has been the DH three times, played shortstop three times, played third base three times and played second base twice. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

Through 11 rehab games thus far, Guerrero has been the DH three times, played shortstop three times, played third base three times and played second base twice. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

After his seven games in Arizona it was clear that Guerrero was well beyond that level of play and ready to return to a much higher level of competition. The surprise came when he was assigned to the Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes instead of returning to Triple-A Albuquerque or even Double-A Chattanooga.

“I feel really good,” said Guerrero when asked if he felt he was ready to return to Albuquerque.

Through four games with the Quakes, Guerrero is 6 for 14 (.429) with four doubles, one triple, one RBI and four runs scored. If the Dodgers are showcasing him for a potential trade, he is doing everything right. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

In his four games with the Quakes thus far, Guerrero is 6 for 14 (.429) with four doubles, one triple, one RBI and four runs scored. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

At face value it is easy to assume that the move to Rancho was made simply to ease Guerrero, who still wears a bandage on the top portion of his left ear, back into the swing of things (no pun intended), but perhaps there is more to this move than meets the eye – say, like, maybe to showcase the hot-hitting Las Tunas, Cuba native in front of scouts prior to next Friday’s July 31 trade deadline.

Because the Dodgers have been working Guerrero out at second base, third base and shortstop, he could be valuable to teams looking for help at any one of these positions. Asked which position he would prefer on a full-time basis, his answer was immediate and very clear.

“Shortstop… shortstop.”

While it would take a hefty return to cover the $28 million owed to Guerrero over the next four seasons, the Miami Marlins are in desperate need of a second baseman – the position at which the Dodgers have been working Guerrero at more than any other and where he has done quite well. The Marlins also just so happen to have a certain right fielder that the Dodgers would very much like to get their hands – 24-year-old southern California native Giancarlo Stanton. 

Realistically, it is highly unlikely that the Dodgers would even consider a straight across trade involving Guerrero (although a Guerrero for Stanton trade would be a steal for the Dodgers), but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they might package him into a much larger trade deal – perhaps one involving the Phillies Cole Hamels or the Rays David Price. But such a trade would also undoubtedly cost the Dodgers several of their most coveted prospects – something that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has repeatedly said that he will not do.

Although Guerrero said that he has not yet been told where he will go when his scheduled five-game stint with the Quakes concludes on Friday night, if it is anywhere other than Albuquerque it could be an indication that the Dodgers might have other plans for him.

 

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