If there's rust on 37-year-old Vladimir Guerrero, the Class A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays aren't seeing any of it.
Guerrero, in his fourth game since debuting with Dunedin on Sunday, blasted two home runs Thursday in the Blue Jays' 14-4 win over the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He finished 3-for-5, adding three runs scored and five RBIs to his tally for the day.
The 16-year Major League veteran signed a Minor League deal with Toronto earlier in May. His first stop on the path back to the Majors is the Florida State League. Guerrero last played at the Class A Advanced level in 2009, when he rehabbed for two games with the Angels' California League affiliate, Rancho Cucamonga.
So far, so good for Guerrero, said Dunedin manager Mike Redmond, who had his own 13-year career as a catcher in the big leagues with three teams from 1998-2010.
"He's gone out there with his usual Vladimir Guerrero style," said Redmond. "He's been aggressive and he's hit the ball hard. He goes up there and he swings at almost every pitch, so if you leave it up he's going to hit it.
"He was able to do that today. He looks good, it'll be nice to see how he does as he moves on."
Redmond added that he wasn't certain how long the Blue Jays planned to have Guerrero play with Dunedin, or where his next stop would be after the Florida State League. For now, Redmond said his young players have simply relished the opportunity to see how a probable future Hall-of-Famer goes about his business.
"I played against Vladdy for 12 years, and I think it's great to have a guy like him, who plays the game the right way, who hustles, around your young players," he said. "He's very professional, and they've been able to see a true big leaguer go out there the last couple of days and do what he does - not only compete, but hit home runs and play the game the right way.
"I was very excited to get him, and I know it's great for our players and our team to get a glimpse of what it takes to play in the big leagues, to be a superstar in the big leagues."
Last season with Baltimore, Guerrero hit .290 with 13 home runs in 145 games. The year before, in Texas, he hit .300 in 152 games with 29 homers and 115 RBIs en route to winning an American League Silver Slugger award.
In his four games with Dunedin, Guerrero has hit .450 (9-for-20) with four home runs, a double and eight RBIs. Toronto will want to see how he fares against more advanced opponents before determining what, exactly, is left in the nine-time All-Star's tank.
But it's the right kind of start, at least.
"This is A-ball pitching, he'll need to see some better arms," noted Redmond. "But from what I've seen, he looks great. He's still got some thunder in that bat, and that's obviously why the Blue Jays signed him."
On Thursday, Kevin Nolan went 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, while Jonathan Jones went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI of his own for Dunedin. Starter Sean Nolin improved to 6-0 with three runs allowed in five innings of work.
No. 2 Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos went 2-for-4 for Lakleand with his third home run of the year, improving his FSL-leading batting average to .409 in the loss.