Notes: Guzman to switch positions

Notes: Guzman to switch positions

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- The long-awaited move of 6-foot-6 shortstop Joel Guzman to any other position will happen next week.

Manager Grady Little said Guzman will participate in Tuesday's intrasquad game at Jacksonville, then will begin the process of finding a new position.

"He doesn't look like the prototypical shortstop, but he catches ground balls nice and he's got a good arm," said Little. "We'll evaluate him at a couple different spots."

The options are the corner infield and outfield spots. Most likely is first base and left field. Guzman might be the most talented Dodgers prospect without a defined defensive position since the arrival of another Dominican slugger, Pedro Guerrero, almost 30 years ago.

"We want him to get comfortable wherever we want him to play once the season starts," said Little. "We'll put him where it helps him the most to get to the Major League club at the best pace. We want him to start the season with the best chance to help us the quickest. That's probably not shortstop. I think there's more than one place where he's able to help us. He may play multiple positions."

It's a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Guzman has immense raw talent and serious power. But the Dodgers have Rafael Furcal and Cesar Izturis to play shortstop, so that's no option. They've signed Bill Mueller for two years and are grooming Andy LaRoche to be the third baseman for the next decade.

At first base, the Dodgers signed Nomar Gaciaparra for one year and are giving him an entire spring to try to learn the position. Meanwhile, opinions are mixed on James Loney, a former first-round pick who is coming off a second Double-A season and a breakout Arizona Fall League where he finally started to show the power that is expected from a first baseman.

Some in the organization believe outfield is Guzman's ultimate location, considering the shaky health of J.D. Drew and Jayson Werth. Until the acquisition of Texas League Player of the Year Andre Ethier, the Dodgers' best outfield prospect was Matt Kemp at Class A, and they even moved second baseman Delwyn Young to the outfield during instructional league because of the shortage. Young now is an outfielder exclusively.

Guzman played short, first and third base in winter ball. Little said he is not worried about promoting Guzman to Los Angeles at a position where he's a relative novice.

"When we bring him up, we'll have a lot of confidence that he'll drive in more than he'll let in," he said. "If he can hit, we'll find a place for him to play."

Robles reassured: Oscar Robles met with Little and general manager Ned Colletti again Saturday to discuss the infielder's decision to bypass the World Baseball Classic and his status on the Dodgers club.

Robles, a career Mexican Leaguer who seized an opportunity last year and made an impact in the Major Leagues, is one of the Dodgers forced to re-establish himself for a new management team that did not witness his success. Because of that, Colletti brought in Ramon Martinez to challenge Robles for an infield utility job.

On Friday, Robles backed out of a commitment to play for the Mexican national team in the Classic to improve the chances of keeping his roster spot.

"I feel better now," Robles said after his Saturday meeting with Colletti and Little. "It's good that we talked. I know where I stand."

Robles felt even better during mail call. He opened an envelope from a fan that contained his Upper Deck baseball card.

"That's the first one I've seen with me in a Major League uniform," said Robles. "Since I was a kid, I've wanted to see that. It's unbelievable."

Medical update: Martinez missed his second day of workouts with the stomach ailment that has swept through camp. Also out was pitcher Brett Tomko. Derek Lowe dressed, participated in fundamentals and began to loosen up to throw batting practice, but shut it down when he felt ill.

Little said his rehab players are progressing on schedule and he's heard nothing to believe they won't be ready for Opening Day, but Furcal still is favoring his surgically repaired right knee noticeably.

Lowe and Eric Gagne will pitch simulated games Wednesday.

Tuesday in Jacksonville: Although it's an intrasquad game with a six-hour round-trip bus ride, Little said a sizeable group of veterans will play Tuesday in the city that hosts the organization's Double-A affiliate.

Top pitching prospect Chad Billingsley will start for Jacksonville, along with other top prospects that passed through the city. D.J. Houlton will start for the Major League team. The 20 players in camp as part of the Minor League advance camp will also participate.

Not making the trip will be pitchers not scheduled to throw that day (Gagne, Lowe and Brad Penny among them) and veterans recovering from injuries (Jeff Kent, Furcal, Izturis, Drew and Kenny Lofton).

Cool lids: The Dodgers are one of several teams that switched to the new Rawlings Coolflo vented batting helmet, ultra lightweight with eye-catching metallic paint.

It's a one-size-fits-all shell with an adjustable moisture-wicking pad and 12 vector-shaped vent holes.

Kuo goes: Pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo is expected to leave Sunday for Japan to join the Taiwan national team for the World Baseball Classic.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.