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Dodger $53 million Cuban infield duo likely to start in minor leagues

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After seeing immediate dividends on their $42 million investment on Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers committed another $58 million to a pair fellow Cubans.

Now it seems Alexander Guerrero and Erisbel Arruenbarrena, like Puig a year ago, will begin their first American professional season in the minor leagues.

It was hoped that Guerrero, a career shortstop in the Cuban league, would earn the starting spot at second base after the departure of incumbent Mark Ellis.

The Dodgers, however, lacked confidence in Guerrero from the start.

Despite signing him to a four-year, $28 million contract, the team extended Spring Training invitations to Mets’ castoff Justin Turner, and a man who hasn’t seen big league action in 18 months, Chone Figgins.

Los Angeles also asked speedster Dee Gordon to change positions from shortstop to second base.

The team elected to take all four infielders to Australia with Gordon getting the start in Thursday’s exhibition game.

The 25-year-old went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before being lifted in favor Turner who also had two at bats. Guerrero appeared only as a pinch hitter, grounding out in the fifth inning.

Gordon figures to be the Opening Day second baseman with both Turner and the versatile Figgins making the cut. Guerrero will likely start the year in the minor leagues to get more at bats and prove he can hit and field his position.

Meanwhile, the 23-year old Arruenbarrena, who joined the team only a week ago because of work visa issues, did not accompany the Dodgers to Australia.

Arruenbarrena is known as a defensive specialist. Though he hit .375 in six games for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, scouts question his ability to hit Major League pitching.

The Dodgers committed $25 million over five years to him and would like to see Arruenbarrena eventually push Hanley Ramirez to third base.

Dodger fans concerned with the $58 million commitment to two current minor leaguers needn’t worry.

Forty-two million dollar man Puig started his rookie season at Double-A Chattanooga before bursting into the big leagues on June 3.

If Puig’s progress is any indication, the Cuban infielders will be just fine.

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The article’s author, Jim Smiley welcomes your email feedback. Read more about Jim in part one and part two of an exclusive interview about his baseball experience.