From BR Bullpen
Alexander Guerrero Pérez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 205 lb.
 Biographical Information
Alex Guerrero is an infielder from Cuba.
In the 2004 World Junior Championship, Alex was 2 for 3 as Cuba won the Gold Medal. Guerrero hit .277 and slugged .426 in his first four seasons, through 2007-2008. In 2008-2009, he batted .338/.408/.641 for Las Tunas, with 19 home runs. He tied Jose Dariel Abreu and Yenier Bello for 8th in the league in homers and ranked 7th in slugging, leading all middle infielders. He was named the All-Star shortstop. He hit .343/.414/.583 with 19 homers, 62 runs and 87 RBI in 87 games in 2009-2010 while fielding .969. He was third in the league in RBI behind Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne), tied Lazaro Herrera and Ariel Borrero for second in sacrifice flies (7, one behind Adir Ferran), but did not make the top 10 in homers or slugging this time. He was again the All-Star shortstop.
In 2010-2011, Alex fielded .970 and produced at a .310/.401/.599 clip with 22 dingers in 79 games. He was 9th in home runs and assists (299). He was hit by 18 pitches, third-most behind Abreu and Edilse Silva. He was named the All-Star shortstop for the third straight season. He made his debut for Cuba's senior national team on the world stage, appearing with a B team in the 2011 World Port Tournament. He was 2 for 9 with two RBI and four whiffs, backing up Erisbel Arruebarruena at shortstop. Arruebarruena would be Cuba's shortstops in their big events that year, the 2011 Pan American Games and 2011 Baseball World Cup.
Guerrero hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 home runs in 2011-2012. He was 4th in homers (behind Despaigne, Abreu and Gourriel) and 6th in slugging (between Gourriel and Joan Carlos Pedroso). Yordan Manduley beat him out as the All-Star shortstop to end his run. He was 0 for 4 with a run as Arruebarruena's backup in the 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week.
Guerrero defected from Cuba in 2013, establishing residency in Haiti in order to become a free agent. On October 21st, it was announced that he had signed a four-year, $28 million deal to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had been left off the Cuban team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and his frustration at having been ignored fueled his desire to leave the island. As a result he did not play at all during 2013, losing a full season in the prime of his career. At least that was his story; given that he did not play in 2012-2013, before the World Baseball Classic, he was likely considering leaving Cuba already, seeing as how Arruebarruena was establishing himself as Cuba's national team shortstop. In an odd twist, Arruebarruena defected after the Classic and also signed with the Dodgers.
He was a center of attention in spring training in 2014, as many reporters compared him to Yasiel Puig, one of the main causes of the Dodgers' remarkable turnaround the previous season. However, he was not guaranteed a spot in the line-up. First, the Dodgers decided to move him from shortstop to second base, as they had Hanley Ramirez to play short, while incumbent second-sacker Mark Ellis had left in the off-season, That still did not guarantee him a spot, as manager Don Mattingly explained that he would need to compete with a number of players with major league experience, including Dee Gordon, Chone Figgins, Justin Sellers and Brendan Harris and that a platoon arrangement was a distinct possibility.
He made his major league debut on opening day, which was exceptionally on March 22nd as the Dodgers traveled to Sydney, Australia to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. Justin Turner got the start at second base, and Guerrero was announced into the game as a pinch-hitter in the 9th inning, to face lefty Oliver Perez. However, D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson replied by bringing in righty J.J. Putz and Alex went back to the dugout without having had a chance to swing the bat, replaced at the plate by Mike Baxter. He was still the first player to make his debut in 2014. He actually saw some game action the next day, striking out as pinch-hitter against Addison Reed. He was optioned to the minor leagues when the Dodgers returned to the States and needed to trim their roster by a few players.
Playing for the Albuquerque Isotopes, he was hitting an outstanding .368 with 10 homers after 32 games when he got into a fight with teammate Miguel Olivo on May 20th. The two began exchanging words during a meeting on the mound in a 7-4 loss to the Salt Lake Bees and the fight continued in the dugout, where Olivo apparently bit off a part of Guerrero's ear, requiring plastic surgery. The operation necessitated a skin graft and five weeks of healing. The Dodgers were clearly not amused and released Olivo the next day, his .350+ batting average at the time not being enough to save him. The injury cost Guerrero a chance to return to the Show, since Juan Uribe went on the disabled list on May 23rd; to take Uribe's place, the Dodgers called up fellow Cuban signee Erisbel Arruebarrena, who was hitting barely above .200 in AA, and would much have preferred to give the playing time to Alex instead. Alex missed three months of action because of the injury, but did make it back to Los Angeles briefly in September, going 1 for 12 in 11 games.
The missed time meant that the Dodgers still did not have an answer to their most pressing question: did he have the defensive skills to play a middle infield slot on a regular basis in the majors. Not wishing to take a gamble with a team otherwise built for postseason contention, they decided to acquire two veterans, 2B Howie Kendrick and SS Jimmy Rollins, in the off-season, making it likely that Alex would be back in AAA when 2015 started. However, he made the team's roster as a back-up infielder, and on April 13th was the hero in the Dodgers' 6-5 win over the Seattle Mariners. He started at third base that day and in the bottom of the 10th, hit a bases-loaded single off Tyler Olson to drive in the winning run. In fact, he was the Dodgers' hottest hitter in the early going, with his average standing at .474 on April 24th, after completing a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants in which he hit two homers and drove in 4 of his team's 6 runs. The question was now how to get him into the starting line-up on a more regular basis. In spite of his struggle to find playing time, he was named the National League's Rookie of the Month for April, finishing with a .423 average, 5 homers and 13 RBIs in 13 games, of which only five were as a starter. As he continued to hit well in limited opportunities in May, the Dodgers decided to make room for him to play more regularly when they traded 3B Juan Uribe to the Atlanta Braves, with the objective of having Guerrero and Justin Turner share the position from that point forward. On June 2nd, he drove a ball over the centerfield wall at Coors Field, just out of the reach of CF Charlie Blackmon, for his first career grand slam. To make things even more spectacular, it came in the 9th inning and put the Dodgers ahead, 9-8, to salvage a doubleheader split.
- World Port Tournament
- Haarlem Baseball Week
- Defunct IBAF site
 Further Reading
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Dodgers' Cuban duo has riches, but not opportunity", USA Today, March 17, 2015. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Dodgers' latest lineup question: What to do with Alex Guerrero?", USA Today Sports, April 24, 2015.