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Guerrero Jr. could start in minors, delaying free agency

By MARK DIDTLER

Associated Press

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is not worrying about whether he will start the season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 19-year-old son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero is considered the top prospect entering 2019. Yet, it would not be surprising if Toronto kept the third baseman in the minor leagues for the first 15 days and delayed his debut until at least April 12. By denying him 15 days of major league service, the Blue Jays would delay his eligibility for free agency by a year, until after the 2025 season.

"Controlling what I can control and then working hard everyday," Guerrero said through a translator on Monday as the Blue Jays held their first full-squad workout. "Making the best out of it. Trying to get better every day and giving the best of me."

Guerrero hit .402 at Double-A and .336 at Triple-A last year, combining for 20 homers and 78 RBIs.

"Can't relate to being 19-years old and being that even-keeled and cool like that kid is," new Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. "I'm impressed, to tell you the truth. That's the mark of a star. He's going to be a star someday, as we all know."

Guerrero took part in defensive drills and made several smart plays during a bunting session. He earned a high-five from pitcher Justin Shafer after charging a bunt and picking up the ball barehanded, then making a strong and accurate to first.

In batting practice, Guerrero hit the ball with authority to all fields over 28 swings during six rounds.

"Really talented," Toronto shortstop Freddy Galvis said. "He seems like a really good guy. Good mentality. He's a mature kid. Coming from his father, he was a hard worker. So, he has kind of the same mentality from what I've seen so far. "

When asked about being an improved player compared to a year ago, a smiling Guerrero said "wait for the next game and see."

MULTITASKING

Galvis also has the ability to play other positions.

"You give me a glove, I can play whatever - well not catcher," a smiling Galvis said.

Galvis hit .248 with 31 doubles, five triples and 13 homers for San Diego last year, playing in all 162 games for the second straight season.

He agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract in January that includes a $5.5 million club option for 2020.

TRAINER'S ROOM

RHPs Matt Shoemaker (right forearm) and LHP Clayton Richard (left knee), both coming back from injuries, had bullpen sessions. GM Ross Atkins said the pair will join RHPs Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez in the rotation. ... RHP David Phelps (Tommy John surgery) also had a mound session.

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Updated February 18, 2019

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