Guerrero working for outfield spot

Michael Guerrero is making a great run at a starting outfield spot for the 2008 Ole Miss baseball team. Run is an important word here.

The 5-foot-11, 187-pounder from Southaven High School and Meridian Community College is yet another speedy outfielder on the Rebels' roster. Back in the fall on several occasions, Guerrero made spectacular plays running to the ball and catching it when many others might not have been able to get there.

But it was no surprise to the confident Guerrero.

"I've always been an above average outfielder with a good arm," he said. "I've always been able to make catches like that. They are actually kind of routine for me."

Guerrero, a junior, says he hopes his speed and experience, along with other aspects of his game, will propel him into one of the three starting outfield spots this season. Add arm strength to his resume' as well.

"My range and my arm strength are positives for me," said Guerrero, who went 1-for-2 in last Saturday's first spring scrimmage with a double, an RBI, a walk and a strikeout. "You definitely want to have good arm strength in the outfield. SEC runners like to take extra bases. That will give me the opportunity to get some runners out. All three of us out there will have good arms, so I'm looking for us to be a strong outfield."

Guerrero says fall ball was an opportunity for him to grow and progress and understand baseball at this level.

"I matured as a player. I recognized what it takes to play in the SEC. It's not going to be easy. I feel I matured as a hitter. I got better looks at pitching. We've got a good pitching staff."

Offensively he was OK with his fall production.

"I hit .323 in the fall which was decent," he said. "That was like fifth on the team. I hit two home runs."

Guerrero says playing for a solid junior college program like Meridian helped him improve in a lot of areas and get ready for baseball at the Division I level.

"I came in here with probably 800 and something at-bats. And I played summer ball. That also gave me a lot of at-bats. A lot of people I know who signed (with a four-year college) out of high school got redshirted. So I definitely had some advantages coming in with the at-bats."

Guerrero lettered two years at MCC and played centerfield and right field. He was named a first-team All-State, All-Conference and All-Region selection. He hit .375 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI his sophomore season. He also had 18 doubles and five triples with 48 runs scored.

As a four-year letterman at Southaven High, Guerrero played all three spots in the outfield at various times. He was a second-team All-State selection, and as a senior hit .477 with six home runs and 42 RBI. He also tallied 18 doubles and three triples.

Guerrero and fellow junior college product Michael Hubbard are vying for an outfield spot along with Rebel veterans Logan Power, Jordan Henry, and Fuller Smith. Guerrero said he has learned a lot from his teammates.

"They don't make many mistakes," he said. "Good outfielders usually don't. I've just been watching how they do things and trying to follow their role."

Now it's time for Guerrero to find his own role and fill his own spot on the 2008 Ole Miss baseball team. He can feel the excitement building this preseason.

"There will definitely be some pressure for me," he said. "I'm not used to playing in front of all these fans that I know are going to be here. All the other guys seem to be excited, too. We've all got a little bit of butterflies and excitement."

But this has all been a goal of his for years, and he's happy to be working to make it happen.

"I've been waiting for this for a long time. I went to junior college, and I've been looking forward to the SEC. I've been watching this since I can't remember how young I was. I grew up watching Ole Miss, so it will be fun to finally get to play here. I wanted to come here. I've been to the Super Regionals. I committed the day they called and offered me. No hesitation at all."

No hesitation indeed, just like when he's racing to get that fly ball off the bat of an opposing player.

"I'm just trying to get better," he said of the day to day work he and the team are putting in. "I really want to start. One of my main goals is to hit well. And I want to play good defense and not make errors."

If the past is any indication, Guerrero has always been able to do just that, with more to come.


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