Rookie Alex Guerrero keeps producing for Dodgers

Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero watches his solo home run fly over the fence in the fifth inning.

Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero watches his solo home run fly over the fence in the fifth inning.

(Denis Poroy / Getty Images)

Alex Guerrero has heard the widespread criticisms about his defense. He has heard whispers that he made the Dodgers opening-day roster only because he had the contractual right to refuse a minor league assignment.

“People who say that don’t know anything about baseball,” Guerrero said in Spanish. “They don’t look at the numbers. They didn’t see the numbers at triple A. They know nothing. So they just say what they hear from others. That’s just noise.”

By continuing to produce in limited playing time, the 28-year-old rookie reserve has started to change minds. Now, with fellow Cuban defector Yasiel Puig on the 15-day disabled list, Guerrero’s role could expand.

Making only his fourth start, Guerrero hit a home run in the Dodgers’ 3-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday at Petco Park. It was his fifth home run, and he is batting .500 and has driven in 13 runs in 22 at-bats.


Guerrero also made a spectacular play at third base in the second inning, throwing out Jedd Gyorko at first base after making a diving stop by the third base line.

“They said I couldn’t field,” Guerrero said sarcastically.

Manager Don Mattingly said he was surprised by Guerrero’s defensive aptitude. Guerrero was exclusively a shortstop until the Dodgers tried to turn him into a second baseman in triple A last season in what was viewed as a failed experiment.

“It’s been an eye-opener for us,” Mattingly said.

Only days earlier, Mattingly called Guerrero “the flavor of the day” and sounded resistant to the idea of increasing his playing time. Now it might be a different story.

“Obviously, with Yasiel down, it changes something,” Mattingly said.

Part of that is because the Dodgers will be short a right-handed hitter with Puig sidelined. Guerrero bats right-handed.

Said Mattingly: “A guy that’s swinging the bat, you’re going to find a place to play him.”

On the two-city trip that concluded Sunday, the Dodgers scored two runs or less in four of the six games. They scored three runs in another.

Guerrero’s starts have been at third base, but Mattingly might not be ready to replace Juan Uribe as the team’s primary third baseman.

Although Guerrero doesn’t profile as a prototypical shortstop, he could offer an alternative to Jimmy Rollins, who is batting .186.

Guerrero also continues to work out in left field.

“There’s a good chance you’re going to see him out there,” Mattingly said.

Guerrero would welcome playing in left field.

“That would be easier than playing in the infield,” he said. “If you’ve played in the infield, you shouldn’t have problems playing in the outfield.”

Puig will be sidelined for at least two weeks because of a strained left hamstring. He was put on the disabled list before the series finale against the Padres, along with right-hander Joel Peralta. Puig had never been on the DL.

Puig strained the hamstring in the series opener Friday and didn’t play Saturday. He sat out four games in a five-game stretch the previous week because of problems with the same hamstring.

“It’s just a matter of not wanting to continue on,” Mattingly said. “We really feel like he’ll probably be able to play in four or five days. But we’re in the same situation we were in last week, where we wait four, five, he plays three and then something else. I think, at this point, get the thing right, make sure we have him for the long haul.”

In Puig’s absence, Andre Ethier started in right field for the second consecutive day.