Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero is back within shouting distance of a return to the major leagues. Guerrero has reported to the team facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the necessary first step of rehab after five weeks of no baseball activity.
Guerrero had a large chunk of his left ear bitten off by Triple-A Albuquerque teammate Miguel Olivo in a dugout fracas on May 20 in Salt Lake City. After a brief investigation, the Dodges released Olivo two days later.
Guerrero was hospitalized first in Utah then in Los Angeles, and had to have surgery to reattach part of his ear. He has spent most of the last month reporting daily to the UCLA Medical Center for a stint of a few hours in a hyperbaric chamber to help healing, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
"The ear is going to make it," Guerrero's agent Scott Boras told Heyman. "The surgery was a success, and he won't need another surgery."
Before the incident Guerrero was on fire, hitting .560 (14-for-25) during a six-game hitting streak that included six home runs and 11 runs batted in. Guerrero on the season is hitting .376/.417/.735 with 10 home runs, six doubles, three triples, 29 RBI and 20 runs scored in 33 games.
Guerrero, who was signed last October to a four-year contract worth $28 million, started 28 games at second base for the Isotopes but with Dee Gordon firmly grasping hold of the major league second base job the Dodgers started to move Guerrero around to other positions. May 20 was his second consecutive start at shortstop, the position he played in Cuba before defecting. The plan was for Guerrero to also play some games at third base, making him more attractive to the Dodgers as a utility man.
The timing of the injury was especially bad for Guerrero, as the Dodgers have since called up infielders Erisbel Arruebarrena, Miguel Rojas, Carlos Triunfel and Jamie Romak at various times from the minors. The current bench has Rojas, Triunfel and Romak, so there is certainly a spot for Guerrero once he is ready.
But when might that be?
"[General manager Ned] Colletti said Guerrero's return to the field will depend on how long it takes him to regain his conditioning," Shaikin wrote.