RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero is playing third base on Thursday night, batting third for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, hosting the High Desert Mavericks (Mariners affiliate) at LoanMart Field.
It is the fourth of five scheduled games on a rehab assignment for Guerrero, recovering from having a chunk of his ear bitten off by teammate Miguel Olivo with Triple-A Albuquerque on May 20. Guerrero is expected to play shortstop on Friday. After that he said he doesn't know where he will play next, though in all likelihood he will return to the Isotopes.
"My original goal was to get better at second base, and I did that. I feel better, more comfortable," Guerrero said through a translator on Thursday. "Obviously the action took place, but what the original goal was continues to be my goal. I'm just going to continue to prepare myself until they decide that I'm ready."
Asked if he was ready to at least return to Albuquerque, Guerrero answered with a definitive, "Yes."
Guerrero, signed to a four-year, $28 million contract in October, was just starting to branch out to play other positions, starting his second game at shortstop in the game Olivo bit off part of his ear. Guerrero, a shortstop in Cuba, played exclusively second base in his first 28 games for the Isotopes.
But no matter where he had played, Guerrero has hit this season. He hit .376/.417/.735 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 33 games with Albuquerque before the injury, and since coming back on his rehab assignment was 8-for-23 (.348) with two home runs and a double in the Arizona rookie league, and is 4-for-10 (.400) with three doubles in three games with the Quakes.
Not a bad return for someone who missed over seven weeks while recovering from ear surgery. The top of his ear remains heavily taped.
"After the accident it was about a month and a half that I didn't do anything," Guerrero said.
So far on his rehab assignment, Guerrero has played four games at shortstop, two at second base, and Thursday will make his third game at third base. The Dodgers will likely want to see that Guerrero can handle defensively two or more of those positions before calling him back up to the big leagues.
The 27-year-old said of his three positions he prefers playing and is most comfortable at shortstop but is willing to play wherever asked if it means a return to the Dodgers, for whom he played the first two games of the season in Australia, striking out in his only plate appearance.
"If it's the fastest route to the big leagues, it doesn't matter at all," Guerrero said. "If you're playing every day at a different position it's hard to feel stable at one. But if it's the fastest way to the big leagues, it's worth it."