Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Could the third base race of '15 be like the outfield battle of '14?

If you're Alex Guerrero, you're certainly hoping it is.

In case you missed it, Guerrero got another chance to strut his stuff on Monday, and strut his stuff he did.  He got another start at third for the banged up Juan Uribe and Justin Turner, and responded with a bases loaded, walk-off single in the 10th to lift the Dodgers over the Mariners at home 6-5.  The Dodgers fought back from an early 4-0 deficit.

While the single was Guerrero's only hit of the night, it certainly was the biggest, and showed the confidence he has at the plate.  He said right during Spring Training that he had no desire to be sent back down to Triple-A and deserved to be with the Big Club.  So far, he's right.

And with that, we have to wonder what Don Mattingly is now thinking when it comes to playing Uribe as the everyday third baseman.  Or for that matter, giving Turner the call on Uribe's days off.  Is Guerrero going to get more serious looks at the hot corner?

While it's too early to compare this situation to the outfield logjam of 2014, there are certainly some similarities.  Last year featured Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, and Joe Pederson (in September) as guys who all wanted time in one of the three outfield spots.  For Mattingly, it was a daily juggling job that left few happy with the lack of an everyday role.

Now, we have three guys for one spot at third.  Actually, I'll say it's more like 2 1/2, only because Turner knows his role of utility man means he'll be playing all over the place.  That's what he was brought in for and excelled at so much last season, so that won't change.

So that leaves Uribe and Guerrero as the everyday options at third.  Uribe is a clubhouse favorite, Gold Glove contender, and two-time World Series champion.  He's also 36, has battled hamstring injuries, and isn't getting any younger or fresher.  Guerrero is 28 with plenty of mileage left in his body.  He certainly has a small sample size, but has clearly shown an ability to make a difference with the lumber.  You can't ignore that.

As of now, Uribe looks to at least get a chance to show why he's still the top dog, as Mattingly will start him at third on Tuesday night.  However, much like last season when he moved Kemp out of center and sat Ethier in the second half, I wouldn't be surprised to see him lean towards Guerrero over the long hall.

Every year there's some sort of position battle, and third base looks to be the one in 2015.  Kick back and enjoy.

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