DUNEDIN, FLA. — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is feeling less pressure as he prepares for his second season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Having five months of big-league experience certainly helps with that.
Guerrero garnered massive daily media attention last spring as the sport’s top prospect, but failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed on him in 2019.
After spending the off-season training in Florida rather than in his native Dominican Republic, the Blue Jays third baseman said he feels more prepared for his sophomore campaign.
“I really feel a lot more comfortable now,” Guerrero said through a translator Saturday at the team’s spring training facility. “The chemistry is very good. We’ve all been working hard as a team together so I’m OK with that.”
Guerrero, who made his debut with the Blue Jays on April 26, finished the season with a .272 batting average, 15 homers, 69 runs batted in, 46 walks and 91 strikeouts through 123 games.
The burly 20-year-old also admittedly ran out of steam near the end of the year, calling his endurance into question.
Guerrero said the idea of working out full-time in Florida in the off-season was one that came collectively from himself and the Blue Jays.
“It was a combination from both sides,” he said. “In the Dominican I worked, but I also had my family. I wanted to be here most of the time because here I’ve got everything. I can concentrate on working out.
“The guys are here, (head strength coach) Scotty Weberg is here. I wanted to take advantage of that this off-season and thankfully it worked out.”
Guerrero said he worked on his movement and agility — side-to-side and front-to-back — in an effort to improve his defence at third base.
Manager Charlie Montoyo said that extra work should be helpful in keeping Guerrero on the field for the majority of the season.
“He’s going to move around better for sure,” Montoyo said. “I think the key was him running out of gas there at the end. Again, that was the first time he’d played in September. It’s a long year for all these kids and he did run out of gas. He said it.
“He said that’s not going to happen next year.”
Guerrero reiterated that goal to reporters on Saturday.
“Right now I feel like … I can play 150 games easy,” he said. “I need to just keep working through the spring and hopefully I can do that.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2020.