Vlad to debut at Dunedin on Sunday

Vlad to debut at Dunedin on Sunday

Vlad to debut at Dunedin on Sunday
ARLINGTON -- Vladimir Guerrero will take another step forward in his road back to the Major Leagues on Sunday night when he debuts with Class A Dunedin.

Guerrero, who signed a Minor League contract earlier this month, has been taking part in extended spring training but will now get his first opportunity to appear in an official game.

The 16-year veteran is expected to receive approximately 20 at-bats in the Florida State League before moving up to either Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Las Vegas.

"I think, more than anything, his timing continues to improve," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He was 8-for-26 in the at-bats that have been accounted for while in extended spring. He's swinging the bat with the typical aggressiveness that people remember him [having].

"He's running very well and he's running actually better than he did a year ago. When he was with the Orioles, you could tell there were some times when it looked like his knees didn't feel the best. But he came into our camp in great shape and is moving very well."

Guerrero will spend some of his time in Dunedin at designated hitter, but also is going to play some left field. The Blue Jays mostly view Guerrero as a DH, but this is an ideal opportunity to see whether he still has the ability to make spot starts in the field.

The 37-year-old Guerrero hasn't played in the outfield since 2010. But with his knees reportedly in better condition than last year, it's possible he will work his way into defensive duty, as well.

"What we're going to try to get a read on over these next two weeks is [playing him] a couple of times a week in the outfield to see how that plays," Farrell said. "To see how he responds physically to it, so if he comes here, when he comes here, if the outfield is an option once a week or something like that."

Dunedin has an off-day on Monday, so Guerrero will return to extended spring training for one day before re-joining the club on Tuesday.

The Dominican native hit .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while posting a .733 OPS in 145 games last year in Baltimore.