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Dodgers may go platoon style

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The biggest question in the Los Angeles Dodgers' everyday lineup might have more than one answer.

Manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday he could see a scenario where the Dodgers use a platoon at second base featuring Alex Guerrero.

"I like platoons, honestly," Mattingly said. "It gets you a good matchup for the most part, with the right-lefts if you have the right guys for it. To me, it keeps both those guys involved so they're better off the bench."

In a platoon scenario, Guerrero almost certainly would be the right-handed half. Dee Gordon is the only left-handed hitter among the other infield/bench candidates, though Chone Figgins is a switch-hitter whose career average (.286 to .257) and on-base percentage (.357 to .331) are better from the left side. Miguel Rojas, Justin Turner, Brendan Harris and Justin Sellers are all right-handed hitters like Guerrero.

"If Alex is one of those guys, I think it would probably be good for him," Mattingly said. "You're giving him a chance to play, hopefully getting him favorable matchups but also keeping him strong and rested as a guy that hasn't played in a couple years. Eventually, if you think he's an everyday guy that might not be the way to go. But I could see that being a possibility if he ends up being one of those guys."

Guerrero was a shortstop in Cuba before defecting and signing with the Dodgers last year for four years and $28 million. He was expected to make the conversion to second base and replace veteran Mark Ellis, who left as a free agent after last season. But there remains some uncertainty about how well Guerrero can make the position switch.

Mattingly said Guerrero has looked "promising" in the early days of camp, but cautions against trying to make too much of his work in drills.

"We see drill work and we see a guy that's really willing," Mattingly said of Guerrero, who has been working with former big league infielders Jose Vizcaino and Juan Castro since arriving in camp two weeks early. "That's the main thing. If you get a guy that's willing to work and continue to get better, then it's just us being patient on the other side of that to see where those improvements are coming.

"He's a good-looking kid from the standpoint that he's strong, he's got some power, you see he's got a good arm. His hands work. We're just trying to get him adjusted to making that turn and doing the other things. Part of this is just going to be time -- he hasn't played a lot of baseball in a while where it's live. A lot of BP. A lot of workouts. But not a lot of games. Sometimes that's just a matter of time to see where he's at, but that's what spring training is for."

A platoon opens the door wider for Gordon, who is trying to make the roster as a bench player if not the second baseman. He also is making the switch from shortstop to second base. But he got a lot more game action during winter ball than Guerrero and also played the outfield in winter ball.

"We'll see where he fits with us, but he'll get a really long look at second base," Mattingly said. "Everybody was pretty happy with the way he looked at second base last year and in Puerto Rico."

KEMP STATUS

Other than taking more ground balls in the outfield during workouts, little change is evident in Matt Kemp's rehab from ankle surgery.

"I wish I could give you a timetable but I don't know it," Mattingly said. "I read the reports of him doing a little bit more, a higher speed on the ultra-g (treadmill). But as far as getting out here and running, what's the date? I don't have that. That's kind of depending on what the doctors say."

Mattingly said Kemp has had MRIs and scans about once a month of his ankle to see how well the talus bone is healing. He said the most recent one was about two weeks ago, so Kemp would be due for another exam in couple weeks.

NOTES

Right-hander Brandon League threw briefly off a mound. Top pitching prospect Zach Lee is scheduled to do the same Thursday. Both have been limited by lat strains early in camp. ... Catcher Tim Federowicz was limited in workouts Tuesday after feeling tightness in his side during blocking drills. He was back to full participation Wednesday. ... Right-hander Yimi Garcia has been diagnosed with a bruised right kneecap. No surgery is necessary and he will progress slowly back to activities in workouts.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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