Dee Gordon will begin his transition to center field in the Dominican Winter League

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Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times shares this scoop:

What happens in the Dominican Republic winter league could significantly affect the Dodgers’ plans for next season.

The league will not only offer the Dodgers their first extended look at recently signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, it will also be where Dee Gordon attempts to move from shortstop to center field.

Gordon will serve as the primary center fielder for Tigres del Licey. Guerrero, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Dodgers last week, will play second base for Gigantes del Cibao.

Gordon has some of the best raw speed in the major leagues and the hope is that his unique athleticism will allow for an easy transition to center field — a position he has not played at any level of affiliated ball. Matt Kemp should be the Dodgers’ center fielder when next season opens, but he has been prone to injuries in recent years and Los Angeles needs a reliable backup.

Gordon, 25, has a .256/.301/.312 career batting line. He can boast 66 stolen bases in 85 attempts.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.