June 2, 2012
Jays promote Guerrero to triple-A
By CAITLYN HOLROYD, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - After being promoted to triple-A Las Vegas, speculation is growing that Vladimir Guerrero is on the verge of joining the Blue Jays.
The veteran could join the big club as early as Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, though manager John Farrell isn’t ready to give the OK just yet.
“I can’t say fully but everything has been extremely positive so far,” he said before Friday’s game against the Red Sox.
The 37-year-old was signed to a minor-league contract on May 10 and joined the Dundein Blue Jays following extended spring training. In four games with Dunedin, he went 9-for-20 (.450) with four home runs and eight RBI. He’ll join the Las Vegas 51s on Saturday when they host the Reno Aces.
“That was his next step in the progression. Obviously, his timing has become more consistent. He’s hit the ball with a lot of hard contact and that’s not just because of the four home runs in a short period of time there,” Farrell said. “Talking with Mike Redmond (Dunedin manager), his bat speed is good and his batting practice and everything about his game has been pretty impressive.”
Guerrero’s promotion to Las Vegas will also allow the Jays to see how he matches up against Pacific Coast League pitching.
“A little bit more of a veteran approach where breaking balls are going to be maybe a little bit more regular for him. But the one thing that we all know, this is a hall of fame-type hitter so I think it’s a matter of seeing a different type of pitching in the progression he’s going through,” Farrell said.
In 16 years in the major leagues, Guerrero has a batting average of .318 with 449 home runs and 1,496 RBI. The Nizao, Dominican Republic, native is a nine-time all-star, 2004 American League MVP and is tied with Jeff Bagwell for 36th on the career home runs list.
He appeared in 145 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011, batting .290 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI.
Primarily known as a designated hitter, Guerrero is expected to spend more time in the outfield in Las Vegas — a position he hasn’t played much since 2008.
“We’re going to take a look at it again in triple A. I think until maybe we see some bigger outfields, we’ll get a better read on the range. At the same time, we know over the last four or five years it’s been pretty much exclusively the DH,” Farrell said, adding that Guerrero isn’t guaranteed the DH spot if he joins Toronto.
“The way Edwin (Encarnacion) has taken to the DH role and to be able to free up some at-bats along the way, this isn’t hinged on interleague play. It’s just in terms of if and when he arrives here, how do we best get everyone back in the lineup and create some flexibility in other ways.”