Dodgers' Alex Guerrero says he won't go back to minor leagues

Contract clause gives Alex Guerrero control over his Dodgers future

Alex Guerrero has made up his mind. The Dodgers have five weeks to make up theirs.

The team's upcoming decision on what to do with Guerrero will be complicated by a provision in his contract that forbids the team from sending him to the minor leagues without his consent.

If the Cuban infielder isn't on the opening-day roster, the Dodgers will have to trade or release him with three years remaining on his guaranteed four-year, $28-million contract.

"The decision is theirs," Guerrero said in Spanish.

Guerrero, 28, said if the Dodgers ask him to waive the provision and spend more time in the minor leagues, he will refuse.

For his part, Guerrero is doing what he can to make this a nonissue. Through four spring-training games, he is batting .667 with a home run and two runs batted in. He was one for two with a run Saturday in the Dodgers' 5-5 tie with the Cleveland Indians.

Then again, hitting was never been his problem. Even in what was considered a disappointing 2014 season, Guerrero batted .329 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 65 games at triple A.

Guerrero's problem was, and continues to be, his defense.

A shortstop in Cuba, Guerrero was moved by the Dodgers to second base last season. The Dodgers wanted him to be their starter, but when the transition didn't go as well as expected, they sent him to the minor leagues.

The Dodgers are experimenting with Guerrero at third base, as well as in left field, which is where he played as a reserve Saturday.

"We talked about giving him some versatility, for him and for us," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.

Mattingly said it was too early to judge Guerrero's abilities at the new positions, but said he has noticed a change in the former Cuban national team player.

"He just seems so much more comfortable this year," Mattingly said. "That's the one thing that I've noticed that really stands out, just his comfort level on the field, in general."

Guerrero said Mattingly is right.

Looking back at last year, Guerrero said it was all too much, from living in a new country and learning a new language to playing a new position.

"A lot of things in one year," he said. "Everything was new."

There was something else: When Guerrero reported to camp, he hadn't played any organized baseball in the previous year outside of a handful of games in the Dominican winter league.

He said he faced better pitching in triple A than he did in Cuba.

"The pitching in triple A was of higher quality," he said. "Even fastballs. When the fastballs come at 95, they're different."

Then came the infamous bite.

In mid-May, a significant piece of Guerrero's left ear was bitten off by triple-A teammate Miguel Olivo. Guerrero was batting .376 at the time and had hit 10 home runs.

"I was close to coming up," Guerrero said. "I was out of baseball for three months after that. Practically the whole season was gone."

But Guerrero feels he is ready to contribute at the major league level.

"I have more experience," he said. "I know how baseball is played here in the United States."

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