One day after making a lacklustre debut with Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, all eyes were once again on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Wednesday as he made his first appearance at third base.
It didn't take long for the ball to find him at the hot corner, as the first batter of the bottom of the first inning chopped a routine grounder Guerrero Jr.'s way. The Toronto Blue Jays slugger did not even have to move to make a play, but he misjudged a hop and the ball ended up hitting him square in the chest. He tried his best to recover but his throw to first was late and he was charged with an error.
Chalk it up to jitters, but the display did not exactly inspire confidence that the 21-year-old is ready to switch back to the position after spending the 2020 MLB campaign at first base. To make matters worse, the very next batter — former Blue Jay Junior Lake — smacked a home run to put Escogido in an early 2-0 hole. Of course, only one of those runs was earned due to Guerrero Jr.'s misplay.
To his credit, Guerrero Jr. shook off the early mistake and finished the rest of the game without a miscue in the field.
Offensively, the former top prospect enjoyed a productive game, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI, but his box score could have looked even bigger.
After striking out in his first plate appearance, Guerrero Jr. came to the plate with two men on and two out in the third inning. He lasered a double to centre field that scored one runner, but teammate Gregory Polanco was thrown out at home by mere inches to cost him another RBI.
Despite missing out on an extra counting stat, Blue Jays fans will be encouraged that he managed to lift the ball off the ground to take advantage of the exit velocity.
In his next trip to the dish, Guerrero Jr. once again had runners on first and second, this time with one out. After fouling off three pitches, he fought off a ball on the inside edge of the plate and drove it to the opposite field for a single. The ball wasn't hit hard enough to knock in a run, but it was still a productive at-bat that loaded the bases.
Guerrero Jr.'s evening ended in the bottom of the eighth when he was lifted for defensive replacement Gilbert Lara with the score 3-3.
In non-Vlad Blue Jays news, prospect Otto Lopez finished 0-for-5 for Escogido and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the eighth.