Shortstop Analysis

Ask Dodger coaches, scouts managers or officials where Joel Guzman will eventually wind up playing and you'll get a variety of answers -- third base, right field and first base all have their adherents. Practically nobody, though, thinks it will be at shortstop, the position he's played all his young (he's 20 now) life.

It's not that he's wretched in the field. No, he's adequate, features an excellent arm and good hand-eye coordination. It's just that his size (6-6, 230) and his somewhat limited range (particularly to his left), mean that he would be more valuable stationed somewhere else. Also, with Gold Glover Cesar Izturis, who's a candidate for the All-Star team, firmly in command as long as he's a Dodger, Guzman needs to have the feel for other posts when he's ready to come up.

That shouldn't be too far into the future. He's performing pretty much as expected at Jacksonville offensively -- .285-10-33. He has played some at third this season; however, the seeming inevitable promotion of Andy LaRoche would fit him there for the Suns. Don't be surprised if Guzman himself doesn't go up to Las Vegas this year. He's had mid-season promotions each of the four seasons he's been in the system.

If not Guzman at short, then who becomes the most likely? Jose Flores is playing there at Vegas. That is. he has until his recent suspension for use of an illegal substance. He's hitting well -- .329-1-10 -- but he'll be 32 on June 28 and is regarded as a utility type at best.

On the other hand, there's Chin-lung Hu at Vero Beach, who's a pure shortstop with considerable gifts for playing there, the range, the arm, the hand-feet coordination. What's more, though, the 21-year-old native of Taiwan is on the smallish side (5-9, 150) he 's no slouch with the bat. He's been hot and cold this season and is currently at .257-5-19.

Columbus features Luke May, who has plate potential (.262-6-29) but who is error -prone, having committed 21 gaffes in the field already. He seems to have the physical tools and is working hard to smooth his game out.

The extended camp has a couple of Dominicans who could develop. Juan Rivera is just 18 and possesses well above average fielding talent. Only 18, he needs to pack more strength in his 6-0, 150-pound body to keep from tiring as he did last year in the Gulf Coast League where he wound up at .243-0-14. Yossandy Garcia is a 17-year-old without pro experience who is so well-thought-of that he'll begin in this country. He's not as slick as Rivera; however, at 6-0, 170, he's bigger and stronger.