2/23/2014 5:53 P.M. ET
Guerrero awaiting games to test progress
By Chris Gabel / Special to MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wednesday's Cactus League opener cannot come soon enough for manager Don Mattingly, who is searching for a starting second baseman.
The Dodgers signed Cuban Alex Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract in October with hopes of him being their second baseman. But after a hamstring injury kept the former shortstop from playing second during winter ball, his ability to make the transition became questionable this spring.
Mattingly needs the live-game situations to know for sure.
"It's hard for us to tell, to be honest," Mattingly said Sunday. "Everything we've asked of Alex, he's been wonderful. This kid has worked and worked. But I don't think until we get these games going on and get at-bats under his belt that we'll start to kind of see what it's going to look like. So that's the objective, to get him on the field as much as possible."
Guerrero made the only two plays offered him during the team's intrasquad game, including turning a 5-4-3 double play with Yasiel Puig sprinting down the first-base line.
"From the beginning, we talked about him playing second; our guys in international scouting think he can do it," Mattingly said. "But with that we know he's got a lot on his plate right now. He's in a new county; he's trying to get adjusted to us, a new position and all new teammates. He's got a lot going on. We'll be patient with it, but we feel like he's going to do it.
"When someone comes with the right attitude and works like this, it gives you the best chance of success."
Adding power to speed, Gordon bulks up
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dee Gordon put on 13 pounds in the offseason. If that doesn't seem like much, it represented an 8 percent jump on the infielder's 162-pound frame of a year ago.
That extra muscle was on display Sunday when Gordon homered off Dodgers teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu on the second pitch of an intrasquad game at the team's Camelback Ranch complex.
"It was lucky. I just put a good swing on it, swung hard and it went where it went," said Gordon, who did not admire his blast and was rounding second base when the ball cleared the outfield fence.
"That's definitely not me; I was looking for a triple to be honest," he said.
Gordon weighed 135 pounds but listed himself at 150 when he signed in June 2008. He worked his way up to 145 pounds in the Minor Leagues.
"But I couldn't get to 150 to save my life until 2012," said Gordon, who played between 159 and 162 last season.
Gordon now sits around 175 as he tries to secure an Opening Day roster spot as a second baseman.
"I hit the ball a lot harder now; it shows," he said.
What would Sunday's home run have been a year ago?
"I only hit one last year, so I don't know," said Gordon, whose lone blast came in May against the Marlins. "It could have been a groundout to second, a double, whatever."
Gordon does not have a specific weight to work toward, and he will not risk any added mass slowing him down on the basepaths.
"As long as it doesn't mess with my speed," Gordon said. "Gaining strength is awesome, but my No. 1 tool is speed, so I want to make sure I'm ready to run. I also want to make sure I play 162 games."
Ryu also gave up a two-run homer to Hanley Ramirez as the White team, drafted by Matt Kemp, won the four-inning game, 3-1 over the Blue team drafted by Zack Greinke. The same two teams were expected to play three innings Monday.
"It was good to get out there, get some live ground balls with your teammates, talk trash," Gordon said.
Gordon came through the Dodgers' system as a shortstop. He was slated to play there every day in 2012 but struggled with a .228 average and .280 on-base percentage in 87 games. He fared a bit better (.234/.314) in 38 games last season.
But with second basemen Mark Ellis, Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker all gone, a new opportunity exists for Gordon.
"I like it. I'm getting comfortable every day," Gordon said. "The things I'm not as comfortable with, I'm working at all the time. The more comfortable I get, the better I'm going to play."
Being the Dodgers' starting second baseman on Opening Day is not a specific goal, Gordon said.
"My goal is to get on that airplane to Australia. That's it," he said.
It was pointed out that Gordon might be the only one looking forward to the transcontinental airplane ride.
"Yeah, everyone else has guaranteed money," he responded.
Experience at first bodes well for Van Slyke
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Don Mattingly stopped short of guaranteeing Scott Van Slyke an Opening Day roster spot, but the 27-year-old corner outfielder and backup first baseman could take comfort in the manager's Sunday comments.
"He did a lot for us last year. It's what we looked for last year; we came into Spring Training looking for that right-handed extra outfielder that could spell us in different spots," Mattingly said. "He seemed to step up and take over that role."
Mattingly said he would look to give Adrian Gonzalez a few extra days off during the season. Often that will come against a tough lefty, which Van Slyke handled last year.
"Scott fits there; he fits for giving Carl [Crawford] a day and Andre [Ethier] a day now and then," Mattingly said.
Van Slyke, who hit .240 with seven home runs in 53 Major League games a year ago, is the only player on the 40-man roster besides Gonzalez with significant experience at first base, and he played first in Sunday's intrasquad game. Non-roster invitees Brendan Harris, Justin Turner and Miguel Rojas have seen very limited action there during their careers.
• Rehabbing pitchers Onelki Garcia and Yimi Garcia returned to the mound Sunday with bullpen sessions.
Onelki Garcia, the Cuban left-hander who reached the Major Leagues last year in his first full professional season, had minor elbow surgery in November and minor knee surgery in January.
Yimi Garcia, the Dominican right-hander who was added to the roster in November, had been sidelined by a bruised kneecap.
Neither was expected to make the Opening Day roster.
Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.