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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 6, 2020
From the start, it was thought that imposing slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s days as a full-time third baseman would not last long, but the experiment appears to be over far sooner than expected.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said on a conference call on Friday afternoon that Guerrero Jr., who spent 96 of his 123 games as a rookie at third base, will be shifted primarily to first base for the upcoming shortened season. The manager said Guerrero will still see some sporadic action at third, but first base and designated hitter will be where he is employed most of the time.
Guerrero has an extremely powerful arm, but limited range and by many metrics was rated as the worst — or one of the worst — defensive third basemen in baseball last season.
Montoyo said the move gives him the best chance to succeed during this 60-game season. The Jays as a whole are confident they can be a surprising group and are trying to make all of the pieces fit both for now and long-term.
Veteran newcomer Travis Shaw, who has been an everyday first and third baseman, is expected to be the regular at the hot corner. Joe Panik and Brandon Drury can also play there, along with Guerrero.
One of Toronto’s top prospects, 20-year-old Jordan Groshans, a shortstop/third baseman, could be the long-time answer at third. There’s also another highly-rated infield prospect in Orelvis Martinez. Recently-drafted Austin Martin spent most of 2019 at third for Vanderbilt, but has since become a regular outfielder.
Montoyo said Guerrero had been doing a lot of work at first base earlier in camp. Though he picked third base as his favoured position and has talked of his enjoyment of being there, the hope is that the switch will work wonders the way it once did for Edwin Encarnacion. Once an error-prone third baseman who struggled at the plate, Encarnacion was a throw-in who came to the Jays and was eventually moved to first full-time. Freed from distractions and able to concentrate mostly on hitting, Encarnacion became one of the most feared sluggers in the game and a Blue Jays legend.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020