SARASOTA, Fla. - Minor league catching instructor Don Werner threw batting practice on the Camden Yards back field this morning. He actually turned and watched one of Vladimir Guerrero’s fly balls clear the left field fence, and the young boy standing behind it.
It was that impressive.
Guerrero and Luke Scott drove the ball to the opposite field during their first rounds of BP. Then it was time to unload.
Guerrero mashed the last three balls thrown to him. Players around the cage were entertained.
No wonder the Orioles moved this group, which also included Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, to the Camden Yards field. Too many cars were jeopardized on the other field. Each swing could have brought a massive pile-up on Tuttle Ave.
Scott could bat fifth behind Guerrero this season. Third is another possibility, though Derrek Lee is expected to occupy that slot on most nights.
“In front of him, behind him. I don’t care,” Scott said. “Somewhere in the middle of the lineup would be good.”
Scott joked that he won’t have as many RBI opportunities behind Guerrero, who has a tendency to clear the bases.
“He’s a very good hitter. You can’t pitch to him, except down the middle,” Scott said.
“My joke to him is, if I were pitching against him, I’d tell the catcher to go old-school style, with both hands up. Right down the middle, cookie-cut it, four-seamer about 86 mph, and he’d pop it up about six miles in the air. But down and in is a homer, up and in is a base hit up the middle, up and away is off the wall in right-center, down and away is a missile down the right field line. You bounce the ball and it’s a knock.
“If you make a mistake, yeah, he can hit the long ball, but he also gets that base hit where you’re trying to pitch around him and not give up the hit that lets a run score. With other guys, you make a perfect pitch off the plate, you get an out. With this guy, you don’t.”
Guerrero is a lifetime .320 hitter in 15 major league seasons, “but you also have to look at the details behind it,” Scott said.
“(Albert) Pujols is a .330 hitter, but I guarantee that Pujols ... he’s a great player, but he’s not as good a bad-ball hitter as Vlad. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. You’ll throw a ball off the plate in or out and it gets waffled. It doesn’t just get slapped, it gets waffled.”